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A New Species of River Dolphin Discovered ! First Discovery In 100 Years

A New Species of River Dolphin Discovered ! First Discovery In 100 Years

 

An Inia araguaiaensis dolphin from Araguaia River in Amazonas state, Brazil. Photograph: Nicole Dutra/AP

An Inia araguaiaensis dolphin from Araguaia River in Amazonas state, Brazil. Photograph: Nicole Dutra/AP

 

Scientists have made the first discovery in 100 years of a new river dolphin species in the waters of the Araguaia river in Brazil’s vast Amazon rainforest.The study’s lead author, biologist Tomas Hrbek, of the Federal University of Amazonas in the city of Manaus, said the new species is the third ever found in the Amazon region.

Inia araguaiaensis

“It was an unexpected discovery that shows just how incipient our knowledge is of the region’s biodiversity,” Hrbek said by telephone. “River dolphins are among the rarest and most endangered of all vertebrates, so discovering a new species is something that is very rare and exciting.” He said: “people always saw them in the river but no one ever took a close up look at them.”

In the study, the Brazilian team concluded that the DNA of the Araguaian river dolphins is sufficiently different from that of other known species of river dolphins to warrant designation as a new species. The degree of difference suggests that the Araguaian dolphin most likely separated from other dolphin species more than two million years ago. Physical and genetic differences from other dolphins, they write, represent “strong evidence that individuals from the Araguaia River represent a distinct biological group.”

Inia araguaiaensis



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