Summer Mini-League 3, Question #5

A member of the classification Order Sirenia and now extinct, this animal and its fellow members of the order have often been mistaken by exhausted sailors to be mermaids. Sirenia, commonly sirenians, are also referred to by the common name sirens deriving from half bird, half woman creatures that tried to lure Odysseus of Greek mythology with sweet songs of love.

Later some authors confused Sirens with mermaids which eventually led to the scientific naming of Order Sirenia. These animals were imaged by the Early Europeans explorers as mermaids possibly due to their pectoral breasts, dexterous forelimbs and fish like tails. In 1493 when Columbus wrote of the mermaids he had seen in the Carribean, he commented they weren’t as lovely as he had expected.

Identify this now extinct animal.


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