Two species were already included in the genus Tursiops: the common bottlenose dolphin T. truncatus and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin T. aduncus. Now a third species has been described in the waters off southern Australia.
This dolphin looks like the Indo-Pacific species, but genetically it is very different and according to the authors who published this finding it should be classified as a separate species.
Researchers from the Marine Mammal Research Group of Macquarie University, Sidney, say that this species is quite closely related to the Fraser's dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei, which lives in deep waters mostly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The suggested common name of this ‘newborn’ species would be Southern Australian bottlenose dolphin, but a scientific name can only be given after a formal description.
It remains to be seen whether this species will be formally and unanimously recognized by the scientific community.
Möller L.M., Bilgmann K., Charlton-Robb K., Beheregaray L. 2008. Multi-gene evidence for a new bottlenose dolphin species in southern Australi. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49(2):674-681.
Photo from Macquarie University
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