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Episode 120

Steller's sea cow
Sat, 2017-Sep-02 01:09 UTC
Length - 3:02

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Saturday, 02 September 2017 is Steller's sea cow.

Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) is an extinct species of sirenian first discovered by Europeans in 1741. At the time of its discovery, the sea cow was found only around the Commander Islands, located in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia, however their range was more extensive during the Pleistocene epoch. It is possible that Steller's sea cow and humans interacted before their discovery on the Commander Islands. Steller's sea cow would reach weights of 8–10 metric tons (8.8–11.0 short tons) and lengths of up to 9 metres (30 ft). The sea cow was a part of the order Sirenia, and member of the family Dugongidae, of which its closest living relative, the 3-metre (9.8 ft) long dugong (Dugong dugon), is the sole surviving member.

Steller's sea cow had a thicker layer of blubber than other members of the order. This adaptation was due to the cold waters of its environment. The sea cow's tail was forked, like that of cetaceans. The sea cow did not have teeth, instead having an array of white bristles on its upper lip and two keratinous plates within its mouth for chewing. Steller's sea cow fed mainly on kelp, and communicated via sighs and snorting sounds. Evidence suggests that the sea cow was a monogamous and social animal, living in small family groups and raising its young, similar to extant sirenians.

The sea cow was named for Georg Wilhelm Steller, a naturalist who discovered the species in 1741. The discovery came on Vitus Bering's Great Northern Expedition when the crew became shipwrecked on Bering Island. Much of what is known about the behavior of the sea cow comes from Steller's observations on the island, documented in his posthumous publication The Beasts of the Sea. Within 27 years of discovery by Europeans, the slow-moving and easily caught Steller's sea cow was hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide. However, sightings have been claimed after 1768, the recorded year of its extinction.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 01:09 UTC on Saturday, 02 September 2017.

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These podcasts are produced by Abulsme Productions based on Wikipedia content.

They are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Abulsme Productions also produces Curmudgeon's Corner, a current events podcast.

If you like that sort of thing, check it out too!

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