100 Years – 100 Objects: Manatee Ribs

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 - meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dan, the museum’s curator of vertebrate zoology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the most fascinating animals in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

These bones, part of the Attwater-Westheimer collection, represent the fourth specimen record of Manatee (Trichechus manatus) for the state Texas.  They were collected prior to 1929 at San Jose Island, Aransas County. 

For years they were passed over as part of a ‘vat of dolphin [Tursiops truncatus] bones’ which Attwater probably collected on the beach at San Jose Island concordant with collection of disarticulated dolphin skeletons. 

This finding was important enough for HMNS staff to publish (2001. Tx. J. Sci. 53: 292-294).

You can see larger and more detailed images of this rare specimen – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the photo gallery on hmns.org.