Giant Extinct Sea Cow Found Buried Beneath Siberian Beach

Steller’s sea cow. Image: Biodiversity Heritage Library
The megafauna’s remains tell a grim story about humans and extinction.

By Sarah Emerson | MOTHERBOARD

The massive skeleton of an extinct megafauna, the Steller’s sea cow, was discovered on a Siberian beach this month. This rare find was made even more special, due to the skeleton’s near completeness.

Steller’s sea cows ( Hydrodamalis gigas) once flourished in the arctic waters of Russia’s Commander Islands, a group of 17 barren islands and islets in the Bering Sea. The species was likely extinct by 1768; a victim of overhunting, it was prized for its meat and hide.

This particular skeleton was found in the Komandorsky Nature Reserve, an ecological sanctuary that’s been submitted for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Russian researcher Marina Shitova, who has studied Komandorsky’s northern fur seals, first spotted the animal’s rib cage protruding through the soil.

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