Lamantin, Or Sea Cow Manatee, a large aquatic mammal (manatus, Cuv.), which was arranged by Cuvier among cetaceans, forming with the dugong the herbivorous group of this order, the family sirenia of Illiger. Recently, on account of the many important differences in their organization, they have been removed from cetaceans and placed in an order called sirenoids, intermediate between the old order of pachyderms and the cetaceans. The manatee has an elongated, fish-like body like that of the whales, the anterior limbs being flattened into fins, and the posterior limbs wanting and only represented by a rudimentary pelvis; the tail is oval, about one fourth of the extent of the body, ending in a flattened, horizontal, rounded caudal expansion; in these respects it resembles cetaceans. It differs from cetaceans in the separation of the cervical vertebras; the smaller total number in the whole column, and the absence of osseous disks between the bodies; the articulation of the ribs to two vertebral bodies and to transverse processes; the long and narrow scapula; the regularly shaped humerus; the rounded radius and ulna; the compact structure of the phalangeal bones; the wide separation of the occipital condyles, and their partly horizontal position, and the large size of the occipital foramen; the well marked and strong sutures, and the absence of internal bony falces; the fusion of the parietals into one; the position of the frontals as usual in front of the parietals; the strong zygomatic arches; the symmetry of the cranial bones and their usual position; the shape of the jaws, and the character of the molars; and the structure of the stomach and heart.
Many other distinctions are given in the " Proceedings " of the third meeting of the American association for the advancement of science, Charleston, S. 0., 1850 (pp. 42-47). The head is conical, without a distinct line of separation from the body; the fleshy nose much resembles that of a cow, the nostrils opening as usual on the end of the snout; the full upper lip has on each side a few bristly tufts of hair; the mouth is not large, and the eyes are small; the openings of the ears are very small. The swimming paws are more free in their motions than in cetaceans, and may be used also for crawling up the muddy banks of the rivers in which they dwell; the separate bones may be felt through the skin, and the fingers are provided with small nails. The skin is of a grayish black color, becoming black on drying, with a few scattered bristles. In the young animal there are two sharp incisor teeth in the upper jaw, which afterward fall out; there are no canines; the molars are generally (8/8)-(8/8) with quadrangular flat crowns, divided by a transverse groove.
The bones are dense and heavy, differing in this from cetaceans; the ribs are numerous and rounded: the mammae are two and pectoral; the intestinal canal is 10 or 12 times the length of the bodv, in accordance with the vegetable character of their food; the stomach has two caeeal appendages in the pyloric portion, which is separated from the cardiac by a constriction. They inhabit the sea shores, especially about the mouth of rivers, and the rivers themselves, keeping near the land, feeding upon algae and aquatic plants; they do not feed upon the Bhores, though they sometimes quit the water, and not ^infrequently support themselves in die shallows in a semi-erect position; under these circumstances they present at a distance somewhat of human appearance, increased by the distinct lips, the long whiskers in the male, and the pectoral mamma in the female. The largest and best known species is the Florida manatee (M. latirostris, Harlani, width inhabits the gulf of Mexico and the West Indians it sometimes attains a length of 15 or 20 ft., but is generally about 12. They are usually seen in small troops, associating for mutual protection and for the defence of their young; they are harmless even when attacked. of gentle disposition, not afraid of man, and rarely quarrelling with each other.
Being found only in shallow waters, they are easily captured. Their flesh is wholesome and palatable. The South American manatee (M. australii, Wiegm.), usually 9 or 10 ft. long, is not uncommon about the mouths of the great rivers of northern Brazil and Guiana; it ascends the streams several hundred miles, and even into inland fresh-water lakes; the flesh of this aquatic mammal is considered fish by the Roman Catholic church in Brazil, and may conse quently be eaten on fast days; salted and dried in the sun, it is an excellent meat: the oil from the blubber is of tine quality, and free from smell; the hide is made into harnesses and whips, and is noted for strength and durability. An African species (M.Sentgaleniis, Desm.) is rarely more than 9 ft. long. The manatees are all tropical, but are not found in the Pacific or Indian oceans, their place being there taken by the allied dugongs (halieore, linger). - There was among the Rnssiansan animal called the northern manatee or sea cow; this is the creature described by Steller, forming the genus rhytina (111.) or Stellera (Cnv.). This, the R. Stelleri (Desm.), was unknown before 1741 when Behring's second expedition wrecked on an island in the straits hearing his name; its flesh formed the principal food of the shipwrecked mariners for nearly, a year; one of tne party, Steller, described the animal, and his account was published in St.Pe-tersburg, and probably contains all that will ever be known concerning it, as in 1708 the crews of the- ships in pursuit of sea otters had entirely exterminated it; it has met the fate of the"dodo, but at a much more recent period; a skull and a few fragments are said to exist in European museums.
It had no teeth, the jaws being covered with an undulating surface of horny tubular matter; the head was small, the body covered with a thick, fibrous, fissured epidermis, and the caudal tin lunate. It attained a length of 25 ft., and formerly lived in the neighborhood of Behring island on the coast of Kamtchatka. The epidermis had a singular structure, being composed of perpendicular horny tubes, sometimes an inch in length, of a blackish brown color, rough and wrinkled like the hark of a tree, and so tough as to he with difficulty cut with an axe; it served to protect the animal from the ice and sharp rocks among which it fed. They lived in shallow water in troops, the older protecting the younger; they were harmless and very tame, and strongly attached to each other; they fed on fuci under water, and the skin, fat, and flesh were esteemed by the natives.
Manatee (Manatus latirostris).