Ryan Lavery

Smithsonian researchers discover new, ancient river dolphin species

A strange dolphin skull that sat in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History collections for more than 50 years actually belongs to a previously unknown marine ancestor of the long-beaked South Asian river dolphin, Gizmodo reports. The ancestor, Arktocara yakataga, was a dolphin that swam in chilly Alaskan waters—where the skull was found—25 million years ago. The researchers, who published their finding in PeerJ, plan to return to Alaska to find more fossils of Ayakataga with hopes to uncover how the lineage evolved and dispersed to habitats halfway around the world.

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