The sea mink (Neovison macrodon) is a recently extinct species of mink that lived on the eastern coast of North America in the family Mustelidae, the largest family in the order Carnivora. It was most closely related to the American mink (Neovison vison), with debate about whether or not the sea mink should be considered a subspecies of the American mink (making it Neovison vison macrodon) or a species of its own. The main justification for a separate species designation is the size difference between the two minks, but other distinctions have been made, such as its redder fur. The only known remains are fragments unearthed in Native American shell middens. Its actual size is speculative, based largely on tooth-remains.
The sea mink was first described in 1903, after its extinction; information regarding its external appearance and habits stem from speculation and from accounts made by fur traders and Native Americans. It may have exhibited behavior similar to the American mink, in that it probably maintained home ranges, was polygynandrous, and had a similar diet, though more seaward-oriented. It was probably found on the New England coast and the Maritime Provinces, though its range may have stretched further south during the last glacial period. Conversely, its range may have been restricted solely to the New England coast, specifically the Gulf of Maine, or just to nearby islands. The largest of the minks, the sea mink was more desirable to fur traders and became extinct in the late 19th or early 20th century.
Temporal range: Late Holocene
|Drawing of a sea mink published by the Canadian Field-Naturalist in 1988|
|The sea mink was found in the Gulf of Maine area.|
The sea mink was first described as Lutreola macrodon, distinct from the American mink, by Daniel Webster Prentiss, a medical doctor and ornithologist, in 1903 after it became extinct. Prentiss based his description on skull fragments recovered from Native American shell middens in New England. Most sea mink remains, nearly all of them skull fragments, have come from shell middens, but a complete specimen has never been found.
Debate has occurred regarding whether the sea mink was its own species, or a subspecies of the American mink. Those who argue that the sea mink was a subspecies often refer to it as Neovison vison macrodon. A study in 1911 by Frederic Brewster Loomis, an American paleontologist, concluded that the differences between the American mink and the sea mink were too minute to justify the latter's classification as a separate species, and he named it Lutreola vison antiquus. A study conducted in 2000 by Mead et al. refuted Loomis by claiming that the size range for the largest sea mink specimen was beyond that of the American mink, thereby making it a separate species. But a 2001 study by Graham concluded that this size difference was insufficient evidence to classify the sea mink as its own species and that it should be considered a subspecies. Graham supposed that the size difference was caused by environmental factors. Furthermore, Graham reported that Mead assumed the smaller mink specimens to be the American mink, and the larger mink specimens outside the range of the American mink to be sea minks; this may have been a case of sexual dimorphism wherein all specimens were sea minks, the larger being male and the smaller being female. A 2007 study compared the dental makeup of the sea mink to the American mink, and concluded that they were distinct enough to be considered separate species.
|New World weasels|
|Relations of the sea mink within Mustelinae|
The taxonomy of minks was revised in 2000, resulting in the formation of a new genus, Neovison, which includes only the sea mink and the American mink. Formerly, both minks were classified in the genus Mustela. The species name macrodon translates to "large teeth". According to Richard Manville, a naturalist who maintains that the sea mink is not its own species, its closest relative is the common mink (N. v. mink), which also inhabits the New England area.
Fur traders who hunted it gave the sea mink various names, including water marten, red otter, and fisher cat. Possibly the first description of this species was made by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in the late 1500s as "a fish like a greyhound", which was a reference to its affinity for the sea and its body shape and gait, which were apparently similar to that of a greyhound. It is possible that the fisher (Pekania pennanti) got its name from being mistakenly identified as the sea mink, which was also known as the fisher by fur traders. The Abnaki Indians referred to it as the "mousebeysoo", which means "wet thing". It was named "sea mink" because it was always found near the coast by fur traders, and subsequently the American mink was often referred to as the "wood mink".
The sea mink was a marine mammal that lived around the rocky coasts of New England and the southernmost Maritime Provinces until hunted to extinction in the late 19th century. Most sea mink remains are unearthed on the coast of Maine. Though it is speculated that they at one point inhabited Connecticut and Rhode Island, they were commonly trapped along the coast of the Bay of Fundy (in the Gulf of Maine), and it is said that they formerly existed on the southwestern coast of Nova Scotia. There were reports of unusually large mink furs being collected from Nova Scotia regularly. The bones of a specimen unearthed in Middleboro, Massachusetts, were dated to be around 4,300±300 years old, 19 kilometers (12 mi) from salt water. The sea mink may have reached that area by traveling up rivers, or may have been brought there by Native Americans. The latter is most likely as no other mink remains have been discovered between Casco Bay in Maine and southeastern Massachusetts. Sea mink bones have been unearthed in Canada, although these may have been carried there by Native Americans from the Gulf of Maine. The rugged shorelines of the Down East region of Maine may have represented a northernmost barrier in their range. Mead concluded that only American minks inhabited the mainland and that sea minks were restricted to islands off the coast. If this is the case, then all remains found on the mainland were carried there. Graham challenged that hypothesis, stating that it is unlikely that all sea mink specimens originate from one population.
During the last glacial period, ending 12,000 years ago, the sea mink's range may have extended south of the Gulf of Maine. It may have even evolved there, as Maine at that time would have been covered in glaciers, although the oldest known specimen only dates back to around 5,000 years; this could be due to the rising sea levels—older sea mink remains may be submerged underwater. Alternately, the sea mink may have evolved after the last glacial period and filled a new ecological niche.
Since the sea mink has only been described by fragmentary remains, its appearance and behaviors are not well-documented. Its relatives, as well as descriptions by fur traders and Native Americans, give a general idea of this animal's appearance and its ecological roles. Accounts from Native Americans in the New England/Atlantic Canadian regions reported that the sea mink had a fatter body than the American mink. The sea mink produced a distinctive fishy odor, and had fur that was said to be coarser and redder than that of the American mink. It is thought that naturalist Joseph Banks encountered this animal in 1776 in the Strait of Belle Isle, and he described it as being slightly larger than a fox, having long legs, and a tail that was long and tapered towards the end, similar to a greyhound.
The sea mink was the largest of the minks. As only fragmentary skeletal remains of the sea mink exist, most of its external measurements are speculative and rely only on dental measurements. In 1929, Ernest Thompson Seton, a wildlife artist, concluded that the probable dimensions for this animal are 91.4 centimeters (36 in) from head to tail, with the tail being 25.4 centimeters (10 in) long. A possible mounted sea mink specimen collected in 1894 in Connecticut measured 72 centimeters (28 in) from head to tail and the tail was 25.4 centimeters (10 in) in length; a 1996 study found this to be either a large American mink or possibly a hybrid. The specimen was described as having coarse fur that was reddish-tan in color, though much of it was likely faded from age. It was darkest at the tail and the hind limbs, with a 5-by-1.5-centimeter (2 by 0.6 in) white patch between the forearms. There were also white spots on the left forearm and the groin region.
The type specimen was collected by Prentiss and Frederick True, a biologist, in 1897 in Brooklin, Maine, the remains of which consist of a maxilla, parts of the nasal bone, and the palate. The teeth are all present on the right side of the palate, and the left side consists of the incisors and one premolar. Other than a chipped canine, all the teeth are in good condition. The specimen is apparently larger than the Alaskan mink, as the average distance between the last incisor to the first molar is 2.8 centimeters (1.1 in) in the Alaskan mink, whereas that distance is 3 centimeters (1.2 in) in the type specimen. The nasal bone has an abrupter ascension, and the carnassial teeth make a more acute angle with the gums than those of the common mink.
These minks were large and heavily built, with a low sagittal crest and short, wide postorbital processes (projections on the frontal bone behind the eye sockets). In fact, the most notable characteristic of the skull was its size, in that it was clearly larger than that of other mink species, having a wide rostrum, large nostril openings, large antorbital fenestrae (openings in the skull in front of the eye socket), and large teeth. Their large size was probably in response to their coastal environment, as the largest extant subspecies of American mink, the Alaskan mink (N. v. nesolestes), inhabits the Alexander Archipelago in Alaska, an area with a habitat similar to the Gulf of Maine. Mead, concluding that the mink was restricted to nearshore islands, suggested that the large size was due to insular gigantism. Since almost all members of the subfamily Mustelinae exhibit sexual dimorphism, male sea minks were probably larger than female sea minks. The sea mink's wider carnassial teeth and blunter carnassial blades suggest that they crushed hard shells more often than did the teeth of the American mink.
As marine mammal species often play a large part in their ecosystems, it is possible that the sea mink was an important intertidal predator. It may have been similar in diet to the American mink, and may have consumed seabirds, seabird eggs, and hard-bodied marine invertebrates, though in greater proportions. Fur traders reported that sea mink dens had two entrances, and were made in the rocks piled up by the waves. Remains of toad sculpins and ocean pout were the most common around their dens, and garden banded snails were also reported to have been part of their diet. Their seafood-oriented diet may have increased their size. According to fur traders, the sea mink was nocturnal and resided in caves and rock crevices during the day. Due to the overlap of American mink and sea mink ranges, it is possible that they hybridized with each other. Although not a truly marine species, being confined to coastal waters, the sea mink was unusually aquatic compared to other members of Musteloidea, being, next to otters, the most aquatic member of the taxon.
Like other minks, individual sea minks may have maintained home ranges, and, since the males were larger and required more food, males would have had larger territorial claims. Likewise, their larger size may have allowed the males to target larger prey than the females, and they may have had to defend females during mating seasons. Like other weasels, the sea mink was probably polygynandrous, with both sexes mating with multiple individuals.
The sea mink was pursued by fur traders due to its large size; this made it more desirable than other mink species further inland. The unregulated trade eventually led to its extinction, which is thought to have occurred between 1860 and 1920. The sea mink was seldom sighted after 1860. The last two recorded kills of a sea mink were made in Maine in 1880 near Jonesport, Maine, and Campobello Island, New Brunswick in 1894, although the 1894 kill is speculated to be of large American minks. Fur traders made traps to catch sea minks and also pursued them with dogs, although they were rarely trapped. If a sea mink escaped into a small hole on the rocky ledges, it was dug out by hunters using shovels and crowbars. If it was out of reach of the hunters, it was shot and then retrieved using an iron rod with a screw on the far end. If it was hiding, it was smoked out and suffocated. The minks' nocturnal behavior may have been caused from pressure by fur traders who hunted them in daylight.
Since the remains of brain cases found in shell middens are broken and many of the bones found exhibit cut marks, it is assumed that the sea mink was hunted by Native Americans for food, and possibly for exchange and ceremonial purposes. One study looking at the remains in shell middens in Penobscot Bay reported that sea mink craniums were intact, more so than that of other animals found, implying that they were specifically placed there. Males were more often collected than females.
The Mustela macrodon cranium is much more complete than those from the rest of the midden, adding to the impression that these bones were placed especially in the cache.
The American mink (Neovison vison) is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to North America, though human intervention has expanded its range to many parts of Europe and South America. Because of range expansion, the American mink is classed as a least-concern species by the IUCN. Since the extinction of the sea mink, the American mink is the only extant member of the genus Neovison. The American mink is a carnivore that feeds on rodents, fish, crustaceans, frogs, and birds. In its introduced range in Europe it has been classified as an invasive species linked to declines in European mink, Pyrenean desman, and water vole populations. It is the animal most frequently farmed for its fur, exceeding the silver fox, sable, marten, and skunk in economic importance.Gulf of Maine
The Gulf of Maine (French: Golfe du Maine) is a large gulf of the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of North America. It is bounded by Cape Cod at the eastern tip of Massachusetts in the southwest and by Cape Sable Island at the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the northeast. The gulf includes the entire coastlines of the U.S. states of New Hampshire and Maine, as well as Massachusetts north of Cape Cod, and the southern and western coastlines of the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, respectively.
The gulf was named for the adjoining English colonial Province of Maine, which was in turn likely named by early explorers after the Province of Maine in France. Massachusetts Bay, Penobscot Bay, Passamaquoddy Bay, and the Bay of Fundy are included within the Gulf of Maine system; as such, the Gulf of Maine is also home to the highest tidal variations on the planet (see Bay of Fundy for further information).IUCN Red List of extinct species
On 29 January 2010, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 842 (746 animals, 96 plants) extinct species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and sub-populations.List of North American animals extinct in the Holocene
This is an incomplete list of extinct animals of North America. This list covers only extinctions from the Holocene epoch, a geological period that extends from the present day back to about 10,000 radiocarbon years, approximately 11,430 ± 130 calendar years BP (between 9560 and 9300 BC).List of mammals of Canada
This is a list of the mammal species recorded in Canada. There are approximately 200 mammal species native to Canada. Its large territorial size and variety of ecosystems, ranging from mountains to plains to urban housing, mean that Canada can harbour a great variety of species, including nearly half of the known cetaceans. The most well represented order is that of the rodents, and the smallest that of the Didelphimorphia (common opossums).
Studies of mammals in Canada hearken back to the 1795 northern explorations of Samuel Hearne, whose account is considered surprisingly accurate. The first seminal work on Canadian mammals, however, was John Richardson's 1829 Fauna Boreali-Americana. Joseph Burr Tyrrell was the first to attempt to produce, in 1888, a comprehensive list of Canadian mammalian species. Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles-Eusèbe Dionne's work were also important. Modern Canadian publications with interest in mammalogy include The Canadian Field-Naturalist, the Canadian Journal of Zoology and the French-language Le Naturaliste Canadien.Several species of mammal have particular symbolism. The Canadian horse and North American beaver are official symbols of Canada, and several provinces have designated native species as symbols.List of marine mammal species
Marine mammals comprise over 130 living and recently extinct species in three taxonomic orders. The Society for Marine Mammalogy, an international scientific society, maintains a list of valid species and subspecies, most recently updated in October 2015. This list follows the Society's taxonomy regarding and subspecies.
Conservation status codes listed follow the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v. 2014.3; data current at 19 January 2015) and are clickable to link to IUCN Red List species pages.List of recently extinct mammals
Recently extinct mammals are any mammal that went extinct since the year 1500 C. E., as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since the year 1500, roughly 80 mammal species have become extinct.Extinction of taxa is difficult to detect as long gaps without a sighting is not definitive, but before 1995 a threshold of 50 years without a sighting was used to declare extinction.One study found that extinction from habitat loss is the hardest to detect, as this might only fragment populations to the point of concealment from humans. Some mammals declared as extinct may very well reappear. For example, a study found that 36% of purported mammalian extinction had been resolved, while the rest either had validity issues (insufficient evidence) or had been rediscovered.As of December 2015, the IUCN lists 30 mammalian species as "critically endangered (possibly extinct)".List of threatened mammals of the United States
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 65 mammal species in the United States are threatened or nearly threatened with extinction. The IUCN has classified each of these species into one of four conservation statuses: near threatened NT, vulnerable VU, endangered EN, and critically endangered CR. Also included in the list are 5 species that became extinct EX since the 1500s.Lost Animals of the 20th Century
Lost Animals of the 20th Century is a 16-episode documentary series shown on the Discovery Channel in the 1990s. It features animals that have become extinct throughout the 20th century. Animals are adjudged as such when the last specimen of the species dies sometime from 1901 to 2000. However, since the show was produced in the 1990s (still part of the 20th century), most of the animals covered became extinct in the early part of the century. Greta Scacchi introduces each episode during the title sequence and narrates episodes 1 through 8. Lin Sagovsky narrates the remainder of the series.Marine mammal
Marine mammals are aquatic mammals that rely on the ocean and other marine ecosystems for their existence. They include animals such as seals, whales, manatees, sea otters and polar bears. They do not represent a distinct taxon or systematic grouping, but rather have a polyphyletic relation due to convergent evolution, as in they do not have an immediate common ancestor. They are also unified by their reliance on the marine environment for feeding.
Marine mammal adaptation to an aquatic lifestyle varies considerably between species. Both cetaceans and sirenians are fully aquatic and therefore are obligate water dwellers. Seals and sea-lions are semiaquatic; they spend the majority of their time in the water but need to return to land for important activities such as mating, breeding and molting. In contrast, both otters and the polar bear are much less adapted to aquatic living. Their diet varies considerably as well; some may eat zooplankton, others may eat fish, squid, shellfish, sea-grass and a few may eat other mammals. While the number of marine mammals is small compared to those found on land, their roles in various ecosystems are large, especially concerning the maintenance of marine ecosystems, through processes including the regulation of prey populations. This role in maintaining ecosystems makes them of particular concern as 23% of marine mammal species are currently threatened.
Marine mammals were first hunted by aboriginal peoples for food and other resources. Many were also the target for commercial industry, leading to a sharp decline in all populations of exploited species, such as whales and seals. Commercial hunting led to the extinction of Steller's sea cow, sea mink, Japanese sea lion and the Caribbean monk seal. After commercial hunting ended, some species, such as the gray whale and northern elephant seal, have rebounded in numbers; conversely, other species, such as the North Atlantic right whale, are critically endangered. Other than hunting, marine mammals can be killed as bycatch from fisheries, where they become entangled in fixed netting and drown or starve. Increased ocean traffic causes collisions between fast ocean vessels and large marine mammals. Habitat degradation also threatens marine mammals and their ability to find and catch food. Noise pollution, for example, may adversely affect echolocating mammals, and the ongoing effects of global warming degrade Arctic environments.Mink
Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals of the genera Neovison and Mustela, and part of the family Mustelidae which also includes weasels, otters and ferrets. There are two extant species referred to as "mink": the American mink and the European mink. The extinct sea mink is related to the American mink, but was much larger. The American mink is larger and more adaptable than the European mink but, due to variations in size, an individual mink usually cannot be determined as European or American with certainty without looking at the skeleton; however, all European mink have a large white patch on their upper lip, whereas only some American mink have this marking: therefore, any mink without the patch is certainly of the American species. Taxonomically, both American and European mink were placed in the same genus Mustela, but most recently, the American mink has been reclassified as belonging to its own genus, Neovison.The American mink's fur has been highly prized for use in clothing, with hunting giving way to farming. Their treatment on fur farms has been a focus of animal rights and animal welfare activism. American mink have established populations in Europe (including Great Britain) and South America, after being released from mink farms by animal rights activists, or otherwise escaping from captivity. In the UK, under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, it is illegal to release mink into the wild. In some countries, any live mink caught in traps must be humanely killed.American mink are believed by some to have contributed to the decline of the less hardy European mink through competition (though not through hybridization—native European mink are in fact more closely related to polecats than to North American mink). Trapping is used to control or eliminate introduced American mink populations.Mink oil is used in some medical products and cosmetics, as well as to treat, preserve and waterproof leather.Mount Desert Island
Mount Desert Island (MDI) in Hancock County, Maine, is the largest island off the coast of Maine. With an area of 108 square miles (280 km2) it is the 52nd-largest island in the United States, the sixth-largest island in the contiguous United States, and the second-largest island on the Eastern seaboard, behind Long Island and ahead of Martha's Vineyard. According to the 2010 census, the island has a year-round population of 10,615. In 2017, an estimated 3.5 million tourists visited Acadia National Park on MDI. The island is home to numerous well known summer colonies such as Northeast Harbor and Bar Harbor.Mustelidae
The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids () are a diverse group and form the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56–60 species across eight subfamilies.Mustelinae
Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).Neovison
Neovison is a genus of mustelids, including the extinct sea mink and the extant American mink.Sea otter
The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg (31 and 99 lb), making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur, the densest in the animal kingdom. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter is capable of living exclusively in the ocean.
The sea otter inhabits nearshore environments, where it dives to the sea floor to forage. It preys mostly on marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish. Its foraging and eating habits are noteworthy in several respects. First, its use of rocks to dislodge prey and to open shells makes it one of the few mammal species to use tools. In most of its range, it is a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems. Its diet includes prey species that are also valued by humans as food, leading to conflicts between sea otters and fisheries.
Sea otters, whose numbers were once estimated at 150,000–300,000, were hunted extensively for their fur between 1741 and 1911, and the world population fell to 1,000–2,000 individuals living in a fraction of their historic range. A subsequent international ban on hunting, conservation efforts, and reintroduction programs into previously populated areas have contributed to numbers rebounding, and the species occupies about two-thirds of its former range. The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation, although populations in the Aleutian Islands and California have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. For these reasons, the sea otter remains classified as an endangered species.USS Callaway
USS Callaway (APA-35) was a Bayfield-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.
Initially designated as a Navy Transport AP-80, Callaway was quickly re-designated as attack transport APA-35. The vessel was launched 10 October 1942 as Sea Mink by Western Pipe and Steel, San Francisco, California, under a Maritime Commission contract, acquired by the Navy 24 April 1943, and commissioned the same day, Captain D. C. McNeil, USCG, in command.Weasel
A weasel is a mammal of the genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae. The genus Mustela includes the least weasels, polecats, stoats, ferrets and minks. Members of this genus are small, active predators, with long and slender bodies and short legs. The family Mustelidae (which also includes badgers, otters, and wolverines) is often referred to as the "weasel family". In the UK, the term "weasel" usually refers to the smallest species, the least weasel (M. nivalis).Weasels vary in length from 173 to 217 mm (6.8 to 8.5 in), females being smaller than the males, and usually have red or brown upper coats and white bellies; some populations of some species moult to a wholly white coat in winter. They have long, slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails may be from 34 to 52 mm (1.3 to 2.0 in) long.Weasels feed on small mammals and have from time to time been considered vermin because some species took poultry from farms or rabbits from commercial warrens. They do, on the other hand, eat large numbers of rodents. They can be found all across the world except for Antarctica, Australia, and neighbouring islands.
Extant species of family Mustelidae