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The Sea Cow

Hydrodamalis cuestae, or "Big Mama" our fossil sea cow arrives at the Museum. Half "fleshed-out" and half skeletal, the Museum's modeled body and cast skeleton is currently the only exhibit of this fossil in the world. In 2000, a Museum Paleontologist discovered the most complete specimen of this species yet found. Big Mama up close. Off the truck. Onto the forklift... And up onto the freight elevator (in two pieces). Big Mama "swimming" to the elevator. Now extinct, Hydrodamalis cuestae was the largest sirenian to ever live. Sirenians, popularly know as sea cows, are plant-eating marine mammals distantly related to elephants. The exhibits team stabilizes the sea cow, holding onto it's barnacle-laden skin. Hydrodamalis cuestae had an incredibly stout skeleton. The density and heft may have helped counteract some of their blubbery buoyancy. Still loading... Hydrodamalis cuestae remains have been found in California, Baja California, and Japan. During the Pleistocene, Hydrodamalis occurred around the entire rim of the north Pacific. The Museum's specimen is a composite cast skeleton. During the Pleistocene, Hydrodamalis occurred around the entire rim of the north Pacific. Today the dugong is the only surviving member of the whole Dugongidae family. Big Mama gets her first look at her new home. Living sirenians (manatees and dugongs) are warm water tropical animals that feed on sea grass and algae. During the Pleistocene, Hydrodamalis occurred around the entire rim of the north Pacific. Today the dugong is the only surviving member of the whole Dugongidae family. Hydrodamalis cuestae probably weighed in at 10 metric tons (22,046 pounds) and grew up to 33 feet long. Big Mama in the northeast corner of the Museum's Sefton Atrium. From where she hangs, Big Mama watches over her calf, down on the exhibition floor. Our sea cow and shark, both full size, are separated by a hundred feet (and a few million years). A view from the third floor. Making final adjustments. Ta-da!