New river dolphin species found in Brazil (Update)

January 25, 2014 by Stan Lehman
This undated 2014 photo released by the Federal University of Amazonas shows an Inia araguaiaensis dolphin in the Araguaia River in Amazonas state, Brazil. Scientists say it is the first new river dolphin species discovered in nearly 100 years inhabiting the Araguaia River in Brazil's vast Amazon rainforest. The discovery was announced in January 2014 in a study by biologist Tomas Hrbek from the Federal University of Amazonas. Hrbek said it "it was an unexpected discovery that shows just how incipient our knowledge is of the region's biodiversity." (AP Photo/Nicole Dutra, Federal University of Amazonas)

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 discovery of the "Inia araguaiaensis" was officially announced earlier this week in a study posted online by the Plos One scientific journal.

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.

"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."

Hrbek added that scientists concluded the large dolphin was a new species by analyzing and comparing DNA samples of several types of dolphins from the Amazon and Araguaia river basins.

"The Araguaia dolphin is very similar to its Amazon river cousin although somewhat smaller and with fewer teeth," he said. He added that there were about 1,000 "Inia araguaiaensis" dolphins living in the 2,627 kilometer-long (1,630 miles) river.

Explore further: Brazil unveils fresh aid for Amazon drought

Related Stories

Brazil unveils fresh aid for Amazon drought

October 22, 2010

Brazil's government announced new aid of 13.5 million dollars for northern regions hit by the worst drought in decades which has stymied navigation on the Amazon River and tributaries.

Recommended for you

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

October 3, 2015

Every day, hundreds of different plant species—many of them listed as invasive—are traded online worldwide on auction platforms. This exacerbates the problem of uncontrollable biological invasions.

Ancestral background can be determined by fingerprints

September 28, 2015

A proof-of-concept study finds that it is possible to identify an individual's ancestral background based on his or her fingerprint characteristics – a discovery with significant applications for law enforcement and anthropological ...

Bat species found to have tongue pump to pull in nectar

September 28, 2015

(—A trio of researchers affiliated with the University of Ulm in Germany and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has found that one species of bat has a method of collecting nectar that has never ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.5 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2014
"people always saw them in the river but no one ever took a close up look at them."

I think he means the white people never took a closer look. Amazonian tribes have a pretty good connection to, and understanding of, the flora and fauna of the region.
not rated yet Jan 25, 2014
This is fantastic. In an age where most things have already been discovered, something new is right in front of our noses. No doubt it won't be the only one.
not rated yet Feb 17, 2014
don't be racist jahbless.

Perhaps you should be critical only of local naturalists with connections to the established system of animal classifications rather that just white people.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.