Subject: Manatees compared to cows

Nancy Sadusky (
Fri, 5 Jun 1998 21:09:18 +0000

Your question was:

The word manatee means sea cow, I was wondering if the manatee evolve
from some sort of cow or did the cow evolve from the manatee? Also, I
was curious to know, if manatees have four stomachs, like cows, and
regurgitate their food? 

My answer is:

 "Sea cow" is a common term for manatees and dugongs.  This name
 likely comes from the fact that manatees are herbivores 
(plant-eaters), as are cows.

Manatees have a single-compartment stomach with a large 
digestive gland on one side.  The stomach empties into an 
enlarged duodenum (upper small intestine).  For some time, 
until proper histological studies were done, it was thought 
that the duodenum was a second stomach compartment.* 

Manatees are actually hind-gut digesters, like horses, as opposed to 
fore-gut digesters like cows.  This means that more of the digestive 
processes occur further along the intestinal tract.  It takes about 
seven days for materials to pass along through the manatee's 
digestive system.**

*From "Manatees and Dugongs" by John E. Reynolds and Daniel K. Odell 

**Florida Department of Environmental Protection's "Manatee Anatomy 

Nancy Sadusky

         Nancy Sadusky 
     Communications Director
      Save the Manatee Club
       500 N. Maitland Ave.
       Maitland, FL  32751
      1-800-432-JOIN (5646)