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Crazy Alphabet Challenge (with a twist): the letter L: Lamantin

source of the photo above:  http://dico-sciences-animales.cirad.fr/liste-mots.php?fiche=25307&def=sir%C3%A9niens

The « lamatin » is the french equivalent of the word ” manatee”. Manatees are marine mammals who are totally herbivores, that is they only eat up to 60 different types of water plants in the tropical seas. The « lamatins » are often called sea cows as they are slow moving and slow eaters just like land cows. Manatees can reach a length of 4 meters or 13 feet and can weigh up to 590 kilograms which is 1,300 pounds. As you can see from the photo, manatees have paddle-like flippers and its rounded tail is used a rudder when moving around in their watery environment.

Did you know there are three types of manatees: the Sirenia (just like mermaid, yes they were related to mermaids in the ancient folklore) or the Amazone manatee, the West India manatee and the West African manatee. There is a fourth member of the Sirenia family called a dugong which is somewhat similar to the manatee and resides in the Eastern Hemisphere of the globe. All the Sirenia family members are herbivore aquatic mammals that live mostly in shallow coastal waters which is not that deep but must have a 20 degree C (68 degrees F).

But also, just to amaze you, the « lamantin » is related to a land animal and not to the dolphin, although they have the same task-learning abilities as the dolphins and long-term memory. In the case of the aquatic « lamantin », it is related to the elephant of all mammals. In fact, both manatees and elephants are descendants from the same land animals over 50 million years ago.

Yes the « lamantins » and the elephants have a sphere or rounded heart compared to most mammals including us humans who have a conical type heart. Manatees and elephants are both exclusively herbivores. Both « lamantins » and elephants have a thick grey skin with very little hair on it. Also, manatees have two incisors which are vaguely similar but not as proeminent, by all means, as the elelphant’s tusks.

Lastly, but sadly, both of these species are considered endangered. The elephants are reduced in numbers mostly due to poaching for their tusks and manatees due to human encroachment on their watery world where they suffer from pollution, blades cuts from boats or outright strikes with ships as manatees only travel at a rate of 3-5 miles (5-8 km)per hour making them very slow. Another influence on the death rate of manatees is the ever changing weather as they do not survive below 20 degrees C water temperature and can easily freeze to death.

The origin of the word « lamantin » is apparently an alteration of the caribbean spanish word « manati » which was crossed with the french word « lamenter ». This created the French word « lamanti » which eventually became « lamantin ». I personnally think that the French word « lamantin » was a new version of the word « lamenter » which means wailing in English. The mermaid like sounds of the manatee brought on the French word « lamantin ».

As for the pronounciation of the French word « lamantin », the first part « la » is easy enough. The second part « man » is pronounced with a downward inflection on the “a” without pronouncing the “n”. The third part « tin » is the same as « martin » but with the tin on a lower pitch. Also you do not pronounce the last letter « n ».

Well, that was the letter L. See you next week for the letter M. Thank you for stopping by.

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Written by HistoryGal

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