PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Steller's Sea Cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) from "Naturhistoriche Abbinldungen der Saeugethiere" by Heinrich Rudolph Schinz. Fine contemporary coloured lithograph of the extinct giant sirenian whose closest surviving relative is the dugong. The Steller's sea cow was first described (and named for) Georg Wilhelm Steller in 1741. It was found in the Commander Islands in the North Pacific, a remnant of a once larger population that had been hunted by arctic people in earlier epochs. It was hunted to extinction within 27 years of this discovery. Steller's sea cows grew to 8 meters or more, with a weight of perhaps 10 metric tons. Steller noted that the animal never came on shore, a fact the illustrator, only familiar perhaps with living seals, has neglected - perhaps to make the representaion easier.
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