Scientists Discovered A New Species Of River Dolphin

AnimalWirePublished: July 12, 2016233 views
Published: July 12, 2016

This is very exciting news! For the first time in exactly one century, scientists have discovered a new species of river dolphin, specifically adapted to the fresh waters of the Brazilian rivers and lakes. Named ‘Araguaia’, after the Araguaia river in which they were first discovered, the team of scientists that discovered them already have some frightening news. The species are already endangered!

Also known as botos, river dolphins are among the rarest and most endangered in the world. In fact, three out of four are already listed as endangered on the IUCN list.

When the team of scientists, led by Tomas Hrbek of the Universidade Federal do Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil, found the group of dolphins in the Araguaia River Basin in Brazil, they have been isolated from other botos in the neighboring Amazon Basin by a series of turbulent rapids. Therefore, the scientists suggested the new species be called Araguaian boto, or Inia araguaiaensis.

This new discovery is the first since 1918, when Lipotes vexillifer was discovered, known also as the Yangtze river dolphin, or baiji, in China. In 2006, the species was declared ‘functionally extinct’, since scientists failed to find even one individual.

According to Howard Rosenbaum, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Ocean Giants program in New York, this study makes a “strong case based on the data,” and it is “amazing because we're starting to get insights into how these animals become distinct species." Evidence suggests that the Araguaian boto was separated from the other species for a long period of time, but since they loath to kill the animal for study, the scientists relied on a perished animal and a few samples found in museums.

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