The ancestors of the manatee were one of the first fossil animals in Florida, dating back about 45 million years. The modern manatee has been in Florida about 3 million years. Their teeth are not common throughout the state, but where they do occur they are often abundant. Many are worn down flat and then naturally fall out and are replaced by new ones. That is why they are called "spit teeth." This same process happened with the mammoths and mastodons also.
Also called “sea cows,” these gentle vegetarians grow to 3 metres long, weigh 450 kg and are related to the elephant. Manatees head for warm waters in winter and can be seen in rivers, inlets, springs and near power plants. The manatee is the state marine mammal. When boating, observe “no wake” zones and if on a swimming or snorkelling tour with the animals, be sure to obey rules regarding contact with them.