A nearly complete skeleton of the extinct sea cow, Steller discovered the other day an employee of the reserve “commander” Marina Shitova. This finding is valuable because the skeleton is quite well preserved. The last such remains of sea cows, the scientists found in the XIX century.
The skeleton was found by an employee of the reserve during a survey of the coastline. From the cliff, like a fence, protruding ribs, and it became immediately clear that under the layer of pebbles and sand lurks a skeleton. A few days later, as soon as normal weather, employees of the reserve organized an expedition on the excavation of the remains of an ancient animal.
Work on the excavations lasted 4 hours and required the work of eight people. The skeleton was buried under a layer of pebbles and sand to a depth of 70 cm as soon As the bone frame was removed the top layer of soil carefully cleared from sand and allowed to dry. After that, all the bones were marked, to save their location for further Assembly of the skeleton. Then, reserve staff began packing the bones. Ribs, 4-5 pieces stacked in a package and the whole pack is tightly wrapped with tape. Similarly entered and the spine. This package allowed us to avoid the friction of bones against each other during transport.
The new skeleton is composed of 45 vertebrae, 27 ribs, left scapula, bones of shoulder and upper arm, multiple wrist bones. The discovered skeleton was missing the skull, cervical spine, and some thoracic and caudal vertebrae. The total length of the skeleton was 5.2 meters. Given the length of missing parts of the spine and head, it can be assumed that the total length of the animal was equal to or exceeded 6 meters.
Finding a full skeleton of sea cow of Steller event is extremely important for science in General and of the reserve “commander”. In General, the skeletons of sea cows in museums around the world quite a lot, there are complete skeletons, there are prefabricated skeletons, assembled from bones of several animals. As a rule, all complete skeletons were discovered in the nineteenth century. The latest find of a full skeleton of sea cow of length 3 m was made on Bering island in 1987. Some fragments of this skeleton presented in the exposition of the Aleutian Museum in the village of Nikolskoye on Bering island.
In the osteological collection of the reserve still was not the skeleton of a sea cow. The skeleton was found will be one of the Central exhibits in the visitor center of the reserve “commander”.
Commander Islands — a place of open cows Steller (it happened in 1741) and the last place of its habitat. Steller’s cow lived only on the coast of the commander Islands, although current paleontological data suggest that in the prehistoric era, its range was much wider. Following the discovery of poaching cows for meat has led to the complete disappearance of this animal after 20 years after the discovery of the species in 1768. It was a large animal up to 7, and according to some reports, up to 10 m and weighing over 5 tons. She led the coastal lifestyle, eating seaweed.