More useful information has been provided to the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum as scientists have discovered fossil of rare river dolphin species. The bones were unearthed on the Caribbean coast of Panama shedding more light on the species.
Researchers have identified the fossil as belonging to the Isthminia panamensis genus which usually lives in fresh water rivers. However, the location where the bones have been found is a strong indicator that the dolphin also swam in salty waters.
River dolphins usually come in small sizes, based on the information that researchers have gathered from their previous studies. Statistics show that the largest river dolphin exemplar is 2.44 meters (8-feet) tall.
There are several differences between river dolphins and those who live in sea and ocean waters. The color is among the first things that leaps to the eye as Isthminia panamensis exemplars may be grey, white, pink, brown and black.
Scientists have estimated that the newly found fossil dates back to 6.1 million years. Previous studies led researchers into concluding that this was the approximate period when dolphins moved from sea waters to the Amazonian rivers. Yet, the new finding shows that they continued to swim in salty waters due to the fossil’s proximity to the Caribbean coast.
The bone fragments that have been unearthed have been well-preserved, according to paleontologists’ declarations. They have stated that skull parts, teeth and jaw bones have been identified among the traces. In addition, there was also a fragment of the scapula bone which is located close to the shoulders in humans.
Many conclusions could be drawn from the analysis of the skeleton. Interestingly, there are many differences between the modern day species of dolphins and the ancient fossil. Scientists believe the river exemplar was a hunter, based on the elongated shape of its snout.
This hypothesis has also been sustained by the straight forward shape of the nose. This form is usually specific for underwater species that feed themselves with smaller fish exemplars. Modern dolphins have developed downward noses as they increasingly acquired new behavioral characteristics.
The fossils further indicate that the specimen was very large compared to modern dolphins. The 3D reconstruction suggests that the river exemplar was approximately 2.85 meters tall. Its large dimensions, together with the 36-centimeter long nose could have made the river dolphin a ferocious hunter. Scientists, however, have to find additional evidence to prove these new suppositions.
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