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Friday, September 16, 2011

New species of dolphin discovered off Australia - 16th Sept 2011

Australian researchers have discovered a new species of dolphin living right under their, uh, bottlenoses.

A population of 100 dolphins in Port Phillip Bay and 50 in the Gippsland Lakes on Australia's southern coast have been proven to be genetically unique from dolphins anywhere else in the world, Monash University doctoral researcher Kate Charlton-Robb said in a university release.

"We're very pleased to announce that yes it is a new dolphin species, and I have called it Tersiops Australis," Charlton-Robb said in an interview with Radio Australia.

The new species has been given the common name the Burrunan dolphin, meaning "large sea fish of the porpoise kind" in Aboriginal languages, she said.

The Burrunan dolphins were originally thought to be one of two bottlenose species, but researchers used DNA and skull comparisons to establish they were a new species.

Only three new dolphin species have been recognized since the late 1800s, Charlton-Robb said.

"This animal has been living right under our noses for so many years and just with combining those two different technologies, with looking at the skull morphology and the DNA, you know there's still really exciting discoveries to be made," Charlton-Robb told Radio Australia.

She said the discovery highlights the importance of conservation efforts. Read More