Researchers discover the massive, ancient dolphin’s skull in the Amazon.

Researchers discover the massive, ancient dolphin’s skull in the Amazon.

The gigantic river dolphin fossil discovered in Peru provides hints about potential extinction dangers since its nearest surviving relatives are in South Asia.

The fossilized skull of a large river dolphin, which is believed to have escaped the ocean and sought safety in the Amazonian rivers of Peru sixteen million years ago, has been found by scientists. The biggest river dolphin yet discovered, the extinct species might have reached a length of 3.5 meters.

According to the primary author of new study published in Science Advances today, the discovery of this new species, Pebanista yacuruna, emphasizes the impending dangers to the surviving river dolphins worldwide, all of whom face identical chances of extinction in the next 20 to 40 years. According to Aldo Benites-Palomino, it belonged to the family Platanistoidea, which includes dolphins that are typically found in waters between 24 and 16 meters deep.

According to him, river dolphins that are still alive are “the remains of what were once greatly diverse marine dolphin groups,” and it is believed that they fled the seas in search of freshwater rivers where they could obtain fresh food.

“For the ancient fossil we found, as well as for all river dolphins living today, rivers are the escape valve.”

While still a student, Benites-Palomino found the fossil in Peru in 2018. He claims that the pandemic caused a delay in the study article, and he is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Zurich’s paleontology department.

While out on a stroll with a coworker, he saw the fossil’s jaw piece for the first time. “The moment I recognized it, I saw the tooth sockets. “This is a dolphin,” I cried out. We found it hard to believe.

“Then we realized it had nothing to do with the pink dolphin found in the Amazon river,” he said. “We had discovered a giant animal whose nearest living relative lives 10,000 kilometers away in southeast Asia.”

The head of the paleontology department at Zurich University, Marcelo R. Sanchez-Villagra, called the discovery fascinating. “This is the first dolphin of its kind, but after two decades of work in South America, we had found several giant forms from the region,” the man said.

Benites-Palomino noted that the fossil was unique in that it was unrelated to the river dolphins that now swim in the same waters as the fossil. It was also notable for its size.

The impending threat of extinction affects all river dolphin species, including the closest extant relatives of the fossil, which are found swimming in the Ganges and Indus rivers. According to him, the main causes—urbanization, pollution, and mining—were already causing the Yangtze River dolphin to become extinct.

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