Newer and newer species of dolphins are discovered with the spreading extent of the expedition. Each of the dolphin possessing its own distinct form of properties and geological traits. A newer species of dolphin is uncovered which is thought to be from pre-historic era.
This newer species of dolphin lay undescribed over the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for about last 65 years. Researchers have named this dolphin as Arktocara yakataga. This word Arktocara is taken from the Greek and Latin words which means “the face of the North”, according to the study published in PeerJ.
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Region of discovery of extinct dolphin species
Yakataga is one of the indigenous Tlingit people’s name for the region where fossil was found. Co-author of the study Nicholas D. Pyenson which is a curator of the fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian commenting over the same says, “We are always learning new things about the vast legacy built by our predecessors at the museum.”
The fossil found is a kind of the incomplete skull which is about nine inches long. It was discovered by Geologist Donald J Miller during 1951 which he had been mapping the Yakataga region which is located in Alaska during 1944 to 1963. Since then for several decades, skull remained in Smithsonian’s collection, until Pyenson, and Alexandra Boerema who are researchers from his lab decided for taking closer look at the same.
Pyenson and Boersma compared the skull with that of dolphins. They found that ancient dolphin species might have most likely swam over in the colder subarctic waters about 25 million years ago. Endangered South Asian dolphin is a species which is living in the tropics and maybe the only living relative today.
Single freshwater river species
Boersma commenting over the same says, “Considering the only living dolphin in this group is restricted to freshwater systems in Southeast Asia, to find a relative that was all the way up in Alaska 25 million years ago was kind of mind-boggling.”
Researchers has also found that the skull of dolphin is from among the oldest fossil from Platanistoidea. It is a kind of group which once was represented by a larger family of marine mammals. It is now represented by means of single freshwater river species, the southeast river dolphin Platanista gangetica.
Arktocara fossil is among the most northeast of all the fossils of Platanista’s now distinct relatives which have now being found around the world to date. Species Platanista gangetica is including both of the Ganges river dolphin and also Indus river dolphin which is found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and even Pakistan.
Dolphin statistical data
Both of the subspecies are currently being listed as the endangered species on the IUCN redlist which are threatened by means of habitat destruction, pollution, entanglement in the fishing data and even other human activities. Only of the fewer thousands of the individuals are remaining today.
These dolphins are blind and are using echolocation for catching the prey over murky river waters and swimming over their sides. They are also quite difficult to study mainly because of their declining numbers.
Boerama adding to the same says, “One of the most useful ways we can study Platanista is by studying its evolutionary history, by looking at fossils that are related to it to try to get a better sense of where it’s coming from. Exactly how that once diverse and globally widespread group dwindled down to a single species in Southeast Asia is still somewhat a mystery, but every little piece that we can slot into the story helps.”