An employee of the Komandorsky reserve discovered on the island of Bering the skeleton of Steller’s extinct sea cow. The skeleton was buried under a layer of pebbles and sand at a depth of 70 cm. In order to dig up the remains, the eight employees of the reserve took 4 hours.
The found skeleton consists of 45 vertebrae, 27 ribs, left scapula, bones of the shoulder and forearm, several bones of the wrist. In the skeleton found, there was no skull, cervical spine, 1-2 thoracic vertebrae, several caudal vertebrae, right side of the thoracic extremities belt, as well as the bones of the pastern and phalanx of the fingers of the left extremity. The total length of the skeleton was 5.2 meters. Given the length of the missing parts of the vertebral column and head, it can be assumed that the total length of the animal was equal to or slightly greater than 6 m.
There are many skeletons of the sea cow in the world’s museums, however, as a rule, all complete skeletons were discovered as early as the 19th century. The last find of the full skeleton of a 3 m long sea cow was made on the Bering Island in 1987.
In the reserve itself, so far, there was no skeleton of the sea cow in the osteological collection.
The sea cow Steller at the time of the discovery of the Commander Islands in 1741 was preserved only here, that is, it was endemic. It was a large animal with a length of up to 7, and according to some reports – up to 10 m and weighing more than 5 tons.
She led a coastal lifestyle, ate seaweed, the so-called sea cabbage – alaria and laminaria. The nearest living relatives of the sea cow are the dugongs.
Steller’s sea cow was destroyed in just 27 years from the time of its discovery.