Scientists in Brazil have discovered the first new river dolphin species since the end of World War One.

Named after the Araguaia river where it was found, the species is only the fifth known of its kind in the world.Writing in the journal Plos One, the researchers say it separated from other South American river species more than two million years ago.

There are believed to be about 1,000 of the creatures living in the Araguaia river basin.

River dolphins are among the world's rarest creatures.South America though is home to the Amazon river dolphin, also known as the pink dolphin or boto, said to be the most intelligent of all the river species.

The new discovery is said to be related to the Amazonian, although scientists believe the species separated more than two million years ago.

"It is very similar to the other ones," said lead author Dr Tomas Hrbek, from the Federal University of Amazonas.

"It was something that was very unexpected, 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."

The researchers are concerned about the future for the new dolphin, saying that it appears to have very low levels of genetic diversity.

They are also worried because of human development.

"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 write in their study.

Responses to "Brazil dolphin is first new river species since 1918 (Video)"

Write a comment