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Anatomy and Morphology[edit]

The dugong's body is large and fusiform, with thick, smooth skin that is a pale cream color at birth but darkens dorsally and laterally to a brownish to dark grey color with age.[1] The body is sparsely covered in short hair, a common feature among sirenians which may allow for tactile interpretation of their environment.[2] The dugong has paddle-like forelimbs which aid in movement and feeding, while its fluked tail provides locomotion through vertical movement. The teats are located just behind the forelimbs, similar to their location in elephants.

The dugong grows two incisors (tusks) which are largest in males, and unlike the manatees, its teeth do not continually grow back via horizontal tooth replacement.[3]

Dugongs are generally smaller than manatees (with the exception of the Amazonian Manatee), reaching an average adult length of 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) and weight of 250 to 300 kilograms (551 to 661 lb).[4]


  1. ^ Fox, David L. (1999). "ADW: Dugong dugon: Information". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  2. ^ Reep, R.L. et al (2002). "Tactile Hairs on the Postcranial Body in Florida Manatees: A Mammalian Lateral Line?". Brain, Behavior and Evolution 59, 141-154.
  3. ^ Self-Sullivan, Caryn. Evolution of Sirenia. Retrieved on 10 March 2007.
  4. ^ Dugong. IFAW. Retrieved on 25 February 2007.