Manatee Facts – Recap (Part 8)… Are Manatees and Elephants Related?
Notice the distinct fingernails on the Florida Manatee’s flipper and how they look very similar to the elephant’s toenails. Also the manatee’s small eyes closely resemble the elephant’s eyes.
Greetings! Here’s another one of my blogs on manatee facts, which is part 8. And in this installment, I’d like to take a look at the question: Is the manatee actually related to the elephant? First, let’s look at some interesting similarities between an elephant and a manatee…
- The Florida manatee (yours truly) is very large! The adult is normally 9 to 10 feet in length and weighs an average of 1,000 pounds. However, there are some occasions where the adult can grow to over 13 feet long and weigh more than 3,500 pounds. The manatee is also an herbivore, meaning it eats only seagrass and aquatic plants.
- The elephant is also very large! In fact, it is the largest land animal in the world, weighing up to 9 tons. The elephant is also an herbivore. The elephant eats by breaking off leaves, grasses and fruit with its trunk.
- The Florida manatee has rather wrinkled, grey leathery looking thick skin, which continuously flakes off. This is actually a good thing because algae can grow on the back and the tail of the manatee, which makes its skin appear green or brown. As its skin flakes off, so does the algae.
- The elephant also has grey leathery looking thick skin.
- Now take a look at the Florida manatee in the image above. It’s displaying its right flipper. Those cool looking white dots on the bottom edge of the flipper are actually its fingernails!
- And the elephant also has toenails rather than hooves.
- Looking again at the manatee image above, notice how small its eyes are.
- The elephant also has rather small eyes when compared to its large body.
So now, I’m pretty sure it is becoming very obvious that the manatee and elephant are closely related to each other!
About 50 million years ago, the elephant and the manatee actually shared a common ancestor. And through the process of evolution, the animals that enjoyed land became elephants and the animals that preferred to hang out in the water became manatees. More evidence of their closely related ancestry is that both manatees (herbivores) and elephants (herbivores) have molars, which help them grind up the plants they eat. As their front molars wear down from constantly eating vegetation, the molars in the back of their mouth move forward. This fascinating event is present in both species! It is also known as “marching molars.”
Stay tuned for more extraordinary manatee facts coming up in a future blog!
If you are in Florida and you see a sick or injured manatee, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee