Prehistoric Giant Dolphin Discovered in the Amazon Forest

 

Prehistoric Giant dolphin

 NEWSLINE PAPER,- Visualize a dolphin, but one that’s double the size of an average human. This isn’t a figment of imagination but a reality from about 16 million years ago. A gigantic dolphin, unlike its modern counterparts, made a freshwater lake in the Peruvian Amazon its home. Today’s Amazonian freshwater dolphins are not closely related to this ancient marine mammal. Its closest living relatives are river dolphins residing over 6,000 miles away in South Asia, as per recent research unveiling this previously unknown extinct species.

The skull of this newly discovered ancient dolphin provided paleontologists with insights into its size. The body of this creature would have been at least 11 feet long, making it 20% to 25% larger than modern river dolphins and the largest known freshwater dolphin. However, the skull, measuring about 27 inches long, was incomplete, suggesting that the ancient dolphin could have been even larger.

This discovery, reported in the journal Science Advances, is exceptional as it offers a unique perspective into the evolutionary history of freshwater dolphins. These creatures are rarely found in the fossil record due to fewer dolphins in freshwater ecosystems and strong water currents that typically hinder fossil preservation.



The researchers named the newfound species Pebanista yacuruna. The genus name references Peru’s Pebas Formation, where the fossil was discovered, and “yacuruna” is a term for mythical aquatic people in the Indigenous Kichua language.

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, an associate curator of marine mammals at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, expressed his fascination with the discovery, especially considering that South America has one species of river dolphin belonging to a completely different group of toothed whales.

Modern freshwater dolphins are recognized for their elongated noses, unlike the stubbier snouts of marine dolphins. The South Asian river dolphin and the Amazon river dolphin, also known as the pink river dolphin, are two such examples. China’s Yangtze river dolphin represents a third genus, but it hasn’t been seen in the wild for 40 years and may be extinct, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In fact, all existing river dolphin species are endangered or critically endangered, as per the IUCN.

The Amazonian dolphin fossil was discovered in 2018, near the Napo River in Loreto, Peru. Aldo Benites-Palomino, the lead study author and a doctoral candidate in the University of Zurich’s Department of Paleontology, had stopped to examine some peculiar rocky fragments on the ground when John J. Flynn, a study coauthor and a curator of fossil mammals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, pointed out what appeared to be a skull protruding from an embankment.


Source : CNN

Editorial : NEWSLINE PAPER TEAM


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