January 27, 2014
For nearly a century, scientists were only aware of two species of river dolphins residing in the freshwater network that includes the basins of the Amazon River and the Araguaia and Tocantins Rivers in South America, Inia geoffrensis and I. boliviensis. Now, researchers from the Federal University of Amazonas in Brazil have found DNA evidence to suggest there is a third species, separated from the other two species by rapids in the Araguaia River, I. araguaiaensis. Their finding was presented last week (January 22) in PLOS One.
“It was something that was very unexpected,” coauthor Tomas Hrbek told BBC News. “It is an area where people see them all the time. They are a large mammal. The thing is nobody really looked. It is very exciting.”