The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is found primarily in the Florida peninsula, but can occasionally be sighted as far north as Virginia and west to Mississippi. The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) shows a patchy distribution, including northeastern South America, southern Texas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Trichechus senegalensis, theWest African manatee, can be found on the west coast of Africa from Senegal to Angola. The Amazonian manatee, Trichechus inunguis, is found throughout the Amazon river drainage basin. The species are distinguished by their geographical distributions, and while they are physically very much alike, some differences exist. Manatees all exhibit a streamlined body, full around the middle with no visible neck, tapering to a paddleshaped tail used for propulsion. They have two small pectoral flippers on their upper bodies that are used for steering and bringing food to the mouth. The lips are long and flexible, and help in funneling plants into their mouths. Manatees are grayish-brown in color and have sparse, bristly hair scattered thinly over their torsos. They have molars at the back of their mouths, and unlike most other mammals, as the front molars wear down they are continually replaced by new teeth from the back of the mouths. Adult West Indian andWest African manatees average about ten feet in length and weigh approximately 800 to 1200 pounds. Amazonian manatees are smaller, shorter, and more slender, averaging about eight feet in length and less than eight hundred pounds.
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