Abstract: A new survey has permitted us to ascertain that at least 27 skeletons, 62 additional skulls, and more than 550 bones of Hydrodamalis gigas from the Commander Islands are currently stored in 51 museums in 42 localities. It is possible that only two to four skeletons originate from a single individual. The other skeletons are assemblages of bones from two to 16 animals. After 27 years of heavy persecution, the Steller's sea cow was exterminated in about 1768. For decades after extinction, no osteological evidence indicated the existence of H. gigas. The first bones were likely retrieved shortly before 1840, the first partial skull was collected in 1844, and the first skeleton was unearthed in 1855. Most of the skeletal remains were found under the supervision of N. A. Grebnitskiy, A. E. Nordenskiƶld, B. Dybowski, and L. H. Stejneger. One skeleton and several bones have also been collected in recent decades.

Key Words: HYDRODAMALIS GIGAS; STELLER'S SEA COW; SKELETONS; SKULLS; MUSEUMS; EXTINCTION; COMMANDER ISLANDS

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.32.3.2006.273

Page Numbers: 273 - 288

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