Florida Manatee Facts - How The Manatee Got Its Name


How The Manatee
Got Its Name

 

 

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What "Manatee" Means

How The Manatee Was Named

 

How the manatee got its name is uncertain. The term evidently has its roots in the Carib Indian word "manati," meaning "woman's breast."

Perhaps an unlikely term to apply to a marine animal, but the manatee is a mammal and its mammae do resemble those of a human.

When the Spanish and Portuguese invaded islands controlled by the Caribs, they also adopted the word "manati" but apparently thought it meant "with hands."

Not an unnatural interpretation since a manatee's front flippers are important for feeding, and (along with the tail) instrumental for steering while swimming.

They also nicknamed it "sea cow" because of its preference for plants.

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