Amazonian Manatee
The Amazonian Manatee is a species of manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows...

 that lives in the freshwater habitats of the Amazon basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

. They are found in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Venezuela. Amazonian manatees are aquatic animals of the Sirenia
Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands, and coastal marine waters. Four species are living, in two families and genera. These are the dugong and manatees...

Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 and are also known as "seacows". Their colour is grey but sometimes appears to be a brownish grey. They have thick, wrinkled skin, are almost hairless but have "whiskers" around their mouths. It lacks significant predation, other than being occasionally hunted by humans. The manatees, and the closely related Dugong
The dugong is a large marine mammal which, together with the manatees, is one of four living species of the order Sirenia. It is the only living representative of the once-diverse family Dugongidae; its closest modern relative, Steller's sea cow , was hunted to extinction in the 18th century...

, are unusual in being the only plant-eating marine mammals of modern times.

A somewhat unique feature (amongst mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s) of the manatee is the constant replacement of molar
Molar (tooth)
Molars are the rearmost and most complicated kind of tooth in most mammals. In many mammals they grind food; hence the Latin name mola, "millstone"....

 teeth; new teeth enter at the back of the jaw and replace old and worn teeth at the front. Their closest cousins, the elephant
Elephants are large land mammals in two extant genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta, with the third genus Mammuthus extinct...

s, also have teeth that get replaced, but have only a limited set of these replacement teeth.

Amazonian manatees are the smallest species of manatee besides the dwarf manatee. They may reach a length of 2.8 m (9.2 ft). Females are typically larger than males and can weigh 360 to 540 kg (800 to 1200 lbs). They also lack the nails found on the end of most flippers.

Recently, a closely related but far smaller species, the Dwarf Manatee
Dwarf Manatee
The Dwarf Manatee is a possible species of manatee that lives in the freshwater habitats of the Amazon, though restricted to one tributary of the Aripuanã River...

 (Trichechus "pygmaeus"), has been described from Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 by Dr Marc van Roosmalen
Marc van Roosmalen
Dr. Marc van Roosmalen is a Brazilian primatologist of Dutch birth living in Manaus in Brazil. He was elected as one of the "Heroes of the Planet" by Time Magazine in 2000...

. Called the peixe-boi anão in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese is a group of Portuguese dialects written and spoken by most of the 190 million inhabitants of Brazil and by a few million Brazilian emigrants, mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, Japan and Paraguay....

, it is about 130 cm (4.2 ft) long and lives in fast-flowing streams. Its validity has later been questioned, with some believing it is an immature Amazonian Manatee.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.