West Indian Manatee. Trichechus M anatus. Adaptations.
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West Indian Manatee Trichechus Manatus
Adaptations Manatees must live in the tropics because they have a low metabolic rate and have a thick layer of body fat. Manatees live in places with plants to eat because they are herbivores. They have adapted to eating plants by using their front flippers to bring their food to their mouths. To break apart their food, they use pads in the front of their mouth. There are molars in manatees’ mouths that grow back if they are worn down from lots of chewing. Manatees can also take in 90% of their lung capacity so they can hold their breath longer, unlike humans who can only take in 10%. Manatee’s lungs are in their backs so that helps them with their buoyancy control. They have wide paddle like tails to help them swim. Manatees have good hearing for high frequencies, but not low frequencies. This is probably why manatees get hit by boats so much, because they can’t hear the low frequency of the boat motor.
Life History Manatees usually spend most of their day underwater for 20 minutes at a time before coming up to breathe. They live in warm waters from one to four meters deep. Manatees typically move at about three to five mph, but some can go up to 20 mph in short bursts. They breed once every two years. Manatees usually are by themselves unless they are with their calves or a mate. Manatees can live to be up to 60 years old.
Habitat West Indian manatees usually live in shallow rivers, bays, canals, or places along the coast. The water they live in needs to be warmer than 70˚F, otherwise they will migrate to warmer waters if it gets less than 64˚F. Manatees can live in freshwater and saltwater. They live in places that have plants so they can eat. These manatees live in Central America, Florida, the Caribbean, or in the northern part of South America.
፠ Kingdom: Animalia ፠ Phylum: Chordata ፠ Class: Mammalia ፠ Order: Sirenia ፠ ፠ Family: Trichechidae ፠ Genus: Trichechus ፠ Species: T. Manatus ፠ Family Tree There are three living species of the manatee in the Trichechidae family: the Amazonian manatee, the West Indian Manatee, and the West African manatee. They are also related to the dugong in the Sirenia order. Manatees were also related to Steller’s sea cows, but those were hunted to extinction in 1768. Scientific research has led to the fact that manatees are related to elephants and hyraxes. The earliest known sea cows were four legged amphibians about the size of a pig. They eventually evolved into aquatic mammals with streamlined bodies and front flippers with a strong tail.
Works Cited • National Park Service. (2012, November 22). West Indian Manatee: Species Profile. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/manateepage.htm • Save the Manatee Club. (2013). Manatee Facts. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from Save the Manatee: http://www.savethemanatee.org/manfcts.htm • Save the Manatee Club. (2013). Manatee FAQ: Manatee Mortality. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from Save the Manatee: http://www.savethemanatee.org/faqmortality.htm • Wikipedia. (2013, February 4). Manatee. Retrieved February 6, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manatee • Wikipedia. (2013, February 4). West Indian Manatee. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Indian_manatee