Archaeology

New Amazon Dolphin Species Discovered, May Become Extinct Soon Because of Human Activity

Dolphin
(Photo : REUTERS/Lucy Pemoni) A new Amazon dolphin species was discovered, but could become extinct very soon because of human activity.

Animal lovers will be intrigued. Scientists now discovered a new Amazon dolphin species after nearly 100 years.

According to TechTimes.com, a group of scientists reported the discovery of the Inia araguaiaensis, the fifth known river dolphin species in the world, and named it after Araguaia, one of the two major rivers in Brazil, where it was found.

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The scientists discovered the new species almost a century since the now extinct river dolphin, Lipots vexillifer, was discovered in 1918.

Any discovery of a new river dolphin species would be hard because river dolphins are one of the rarest and most endangered vertebrates in the planet.

So how did the discovery come about?

Researchers took DNA from the river dolphins in the Araguaia and Tocantins rivers and found that they are different from other known species in Brazil. They also have 24 teeth per jaw as compared to the 25 to 29 found in the other river dolphins in the Amazon river.

"Nonetheless, the researchers believe that the new species originated from the river dolphins in the main Amazon river basin but were separated more than two million years ago when the Araguaia-Tocantins basin was separated from the rest of the Amazon river system," the report said. "The shifting landscape and the river dolphins' inability to swim fast have isolated them from other South American river species."

While this is exciting news, the future of the new river dolphins already seems dreary and hopeless.

"Its future is pretty bleak," said study co-author Tomas Hrbek of the Federal University of Amazonas in Brazil. "The Araguaia-Tocantins basin suffers huge human disturbance and there are probably less than 1000 I. araguaiaensis in existence."

The Lipotes vexillifer became extinct because of human activity, so it's no surprise that scientists believe that the same will happen to the new species.

"Since the 1960s the Araguaia river basin has been experiencing significant anthropogenic pressure via agricultural and ranching activities, and the construction of hydroelectric dams," the authors wrote.

The report was published in the journal "PLOS ONE" on Jan. 22.

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