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Researchers have discovered a new species of river dolphin for the first time in since 1918 in Brazil. Unfortunately, it might be lost as quickly as it was discovered due to habitat destruction. The discovery was made by a group of researchers led by Tomas Hrbek of the Federal University of Amazonas and was published in PLOS One.
The newly discovered dolphin has been named Inia araguaiaensis, or the Araguarian Boto. Hrbek and his team made the discovery in Brazil’s Araguaia River basin. This area is pretty well populated and the dolphins are seen quite frequently, but until genetic sequencing and skull comparisons were completed, they were assumed to be members of I. geoffrensis. However, since I. araguaiaensis is physically isolated, Hrbek and his team suspected that it was a novel species and began to investigate. He notes: “It is an area where people see them all the time, they are a large mammal, the thing is nobody really looked.”