Fossil Manatee

The West Indian Manatee

Trichechus manatus


Florida Manatee

The Fossil Manatee is a Marine Mammal that is part of the Sirenia Order. This Order contains four living species today…three Manatees and one Dugong. They are all nearly extinct and one of them lives in Florida.

Of the 1200 Manatees living in the United States today, nearly all of them live in Florida.

Manatee Skull

Sometimes called a Sea Cow, they evolved from a four-legged plant-eating land mammal about 60 Million Years ago and are closely related to Elephants. Like Elephants, their teeth move laterally in their mouth as they wear out and eventually are spit out.

The vegetation in their diet is very gritty and wears down the leading molars. They have 24-32 grinding molars in the back of their mouth. Like Mastodons and Mammoths, Fossil Manatees “spit teeth” are often found fossilized in many parts of the state.

Florida Manatee Picture

They were herbivores and could consume 60-100 lbs. of vegetation daily. Similar to Elephants, fossil Manatee were known to have lived up to 60 years of age. They could hold their breath up to 20 minutes if needed and spent half of their day sleeping in the water.

Florida Manatee Photo

The adult Manatee is 10 feet long and weighs in at 1200 lbs. It is gray to gray-brown in color with wrinkled skin. The skin is often covered with green algae and barnacles. It has some coarse hair on its body with facial whiskers that help it find food.

Florida Manatee Tail

Its huge tail is used for forward locomotion. They have no hind limbs, but use their two front flippers to stabilize themselves in the water and aid in feeding. Each of their flippers has 3 or 4 toenails on them and can be used to scratch themselves.

The flippers have evolved for an aquatic environment, but have the same amount of bones found in a human arm and hand.

It uses its snout like an elephant uses its trunk. The eyes are small and have a membrane to protect them underwater.

The cows give birth to one calf every 2-3 years. The calves nurse underwater from under their mother’s flipper.

Manatee Bones

Fossil ancestors of the Manatee, the Dugong have been found in Florida as far back as 45-50 Million Years ago. The fossil record tells us that there were many more species at one time and they were wider spread than today. The Manatees themselves evolved about 15 Million Years ago.

The modern Manatee, Trichechus, has been in Florida the last 3 Million years, from the Pliocene to Recent.

Living in tropical warm water, they have been in Florida non-stop for 45 Million Years. There has been one cold water Sirenia that lived in the Bering Sea, the Steller’s Sea Cow, and it was hunted to extinction in the 1700’s.


Manatee Fossils for Sale

- CLICK on each picture below to learn more.


Fossil Manatee Vertebrae for Sale

Price: out of stock    Item #: MT015

Manatee Fossil Teeth for Sale

  Price: out of stock       Item #: MT014

Manatee Fossil Rib for Sale

      Price: SOLD      Item #: MT012


Manatee Fossil Ear Bone for Sale

Price: out of stock Item #: MT013

Manatee Fossil Teeth for Sale

Price: out of stock Item #: MT011

Manatee Fossil Teeth for Sale

Price: out of stock Item #: MT010


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