Navigation Links
Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin
Date:8/1/2014

Scientists examining a taxonomically confused group of marine mammals have officially named a species new to science: the Australian humpback dolphin, Sousa sahulensis, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and Clymene Enterprises.

The study describing the newly named species is the culmination of a 17-year long systematic examination of all available historical records, physical descriptions, and genetic data of humpback dolphinsa widespread group of coastal cetaceans ranging from the coast of West Africa to the northern coast of Australia. The Australian humpback dolphin becomes the fourth recognized humpback dolphin species.

The study appears online today in the journal Marine Mammal Science, and will appear in the journal's October edition. The authors are: Thomas A. Jefferson of Clymene Enterprises and Howard C. Rosenbaum of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"We've finally managed to settle many long-standing questions about humpback dolphinsparticularly how many species actually existusing a huge body of data collected over two centuries and analyzed with the latest scientific tools," said Dr. Jefferson.

"The formal recognition and naming of a new species brings with it a need to formulate or update plans for protection of these dolphins," said Dr. Rosenbaum, Director of WCS's Ocean Giants Program. "Humpback dolphins throughout their range are threatened with fisheries interactions, vessel impacts, and development in their coastal habitats. Efforts to protect humpback dolphins and other coastal dolphins, and their most important habitats are essential for the survival of these species."

The process of describing a species new to science requires a systematic analysis of all species most closely related to the animal in question. The humpback dolphins in particular have vexed researchers and taxonomists for decades until researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and a number of other institutions provided the most definitive results in late 2013.

Noteworthy naturalists such as Richard Owen (who coined the word "dinosaur"), Georges Cuvier, and Richard Lydekker have added to the literature on humpback dolphins over the centuries. In recent years, scientists have disagreed with one another about the number of species, with some considering all humpback dolphins the same species and others postulating as many as nine different ones.

The new study contains detailed reviews and descriptions of the currently recognized four humpback dolphin species, using external and skeletal measurements, coloration, molecular genetics, and geographic distribution. The study is the next step building upon recent studies that first detected the existence of a unique humpback dolphin species inhabiting the waters of northern Australia and the island of New Guinea, using genetics and morphological characters.

The Australian humpback dolphin species joins the current assemblage of three other closely related species: the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii), the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), and the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea). The new dolphin's scientific nameSousa sahulensisis derived from the Sahul Shelf, an underwater shelf stretching between northern Australia and southern New Guinea, where the Australian humpback dolphin occurs.

Aside from slight differences in overall length, number of teeth and vertebrae, and geographic distribution, the Australian humpback dolphin differs in appearance from the other three humpback species. Its dorsal fin is lower and more wide-based than the dorsal fins of Sousa teuszii and S. plumbea, and its coloration is dark gray, as opposed to the distinctly white (often with a pink tinge) coloration of its closest humpback neighbor, Sousa chinensis. The Australian humpback dolphin also possesses a distinctive dark dorsal "cape."

Another interesting finding with the designation of the Australian humpback dolphin is the support its distribution provides to a zoogeographical barrier described by Alfred Russell Wallace, one of the first naturalists to examine in detail the life of the Malay Archipelago. He identified a barrier now known as the Wallace Line. To the west of the line, terrestrial animal species are mostly of Asian origin; to the east, animal species largely descend from Australasian ancestors. Researchers have also found the Wallace Line to be a barrier for marine species as well, and the divide between Indo-Pacific and the Australian humpback dolphins seems to coincide with this border.

There is currently no population estimate for the Australian humpback dolphin, but the authors warn that it is unlikely that more than a few thousand dolphins of that species exist, based on available sighting data. Potential threats to all humpback dolphins include coastal development, accidental capture by fishermen, vessel collisions, and in a few cases direct hunting.


'/>"/>

Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Scripps Research Institute scientists find new calorie-burning switch in brown fat
2. Scientists warn time to stop drilling in the dark
3. Scientists find growing consensus: Political attitudes derive from body and mind
4. Scientists shine bright new light on how living things capture energy from the sun
5. Scientists discover biochemical mechanisms contributing to fibromuscular dysplasia
6. Conservation scientists asking wrong questions on climate change impacts on wildlife
7. Scientists reproduce evolutionary changes by manipulating embryonic development of mice
8. 23andMe scientists receive approximately $1.4 million in funding from National Institutes of Health
9. Scientists discover genetic switch that can prevent peripheral vascular disease in mice
10. Scientists discover new, noncommittal mechanism of drug resistance
11. New tools help neuroscientists analyze big data
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin
(Date:2/3/2017)... 3, 2017 A new independent identity strategy ... LLP (IdSP) . Designed to fill a critical niche ... market, founding partners Mark Crego and ... just in identity expertise that span federal governments, the ... The Crego-Kephart combined expertise has a common theme born ...
(Date:2/2/2017)... -- EyeLock LLC, a market leader of iris-based identity authentication ... You Should Know About Biometrics in the Cloud ."  ... a growing concern. In traditional schemes, cryptography is used ... schemes such as username/password suffer from inherent weaknesses. ... elegant solution to the problem of high-security user authentication. ...
(Date:2/1/2017)... IDTechEx Research, a leading provider of independent market research, business ... new report, Sensors for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts 2017-2027 ... ... Revenues of ... for Robotics: Technologies, Markets and Forecasts 2017-2027: Machine vision, force sensing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/16/2017)... 2017  ArmaGen, Inc., a privately held biotechnology ... severe neurological disorders, today reported preliminary evidence of ... company,s investigational therapy for the treatment of Hurler ... I, or MPS I). The initial results from ... today at the 13 th annual WORLD ...
(Date:2/16/2017)... -- UCHealth ( Aurora, Colorado ) becomes ... patient management. In addition to optimizing care coordination for ... lung, UCHealth looks to improve provider workflow by decreasing ... Stephanie Brown, RN , Thoracic Nurse Navigator, says, ... Excel spreadsheet, which was extremely arduous and susceptible to ...
(Date:2/16/2017)...  Rhythm, a biopharmaceutical company developing peptide ... in life-threatening metabolic disorders, today announced the ... of financing with existing investors including Deerfield ... Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Third Rock Ventures, ... Rhythm will use the proceeds to advance ...
(Date:2/15/2017)... , 15. Februar 2017  Trianni, Inc. („TRIANNI") ... Inc. (Janssen) eine Lizenzvereinbarung über die Verwendung der ... führenden Plattform für die Entdeckung monoklonaler Antikörper. ... neuartiges chimäres Gensegmentdesign aus, das Janssen den ... Antikörpern bietet und das für die schelle Isolierung ...
Breaking Biology Technology: