Giant dolphin lived in the Amazon 16 million years ago – 03/21/2024 – Science

Giant dolphin lived in the Amazon 16 million years ago – 03/21/2024 – Science


Paleontologists presented this Wednesday (20) the skull of a giant dolphin that lived 16 million years ago in the rivers of the Peruvian Amazon.

“We were lucky enough to find the almost complete skull of an Amazonian dolphin that lived in this region 16 million years ago,” paleontologist Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi, from the Natural History Museum of the National University of San Marcos, in Lima, told AFP.

The discovery occurred in 2018, on the banks of the Napo River, in the Loreto region, but confirmation of the antiquity tests was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a success, because it allows us to get to know an animal that we didn’t know existed in the Amazon”, mainly because it is a region where the search for fossils is difficult”, said Salas-Gismondi.

The study on the species was published this Wednesday (20) in the journal Science Advances. According to the Peruvian researcher, it is a dolphin whose length varies between 3 and 3.5 meters: “It is a very large animal, larger than any river dolphin ever discovered.”

According to Salas, “it is likely that this dolphin has marine ancestors throughout the ocean and that they forayed into the Amazon region and India.”

Contribution to biodiversity

16 million years ago, the Peruvian Amazon was very different. Much of the Amazon plain was covered by a large system of lakes and swamps called Pebas, where large dolphins lived.

The Pebas system included aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and extended across what are now Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

“It’s a great discovery, a very great contribution to paleontology and very important for understanding current biodiversity,” explained to AFP the director of the French Institute for Development Research (IRD), Bruno Turcq — a researcher at the institute participated in the discovery .

Formed by Peruvian, American and French paleontologists, the expedition was sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

The first cetaceans evolved from land animals about 55 million years ago.


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