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The Florida manatee is one of two sub species of the West Indian manatee. West Indian manatees are a species known to range from Brazil north to Mexico and the southeastern United States, including the Caribbean islands. This species includes two sub species, the Antillean manatee and the Florida manatee. The Antillean manatee ranges from Brazil to Mexico, including the Caribbean islands. The Florida manatee is found in the southeastern United States, with the core of its range here in Florida.

Manatees are well represented in Florida’s fossil record. Their remains date back to prehistoric times and they are one of the more common vertebrate fossils known from ancient marine deposits. Manatee remains are also found in Native American rubbish heaps in Florida, sites that pre-date the arrival of the early Spaniards. The early colonists described how these natives hunted the manatee and were quick to appreciate the intrinsic value of the species.
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