It’s not every day that scientists identify a new mammal â€” especially one that can grow to be more than 8 feet (2.4 meters) long. But researchers recently named a new species of cetacean: the Australian humpback dolphin, SousaÂ sahulensis.
S. sahulensis hadn’t been hiding in aÂ mysterious part of the ocean; rather, the species had been misclassified. Once lumped in with its three cousins, S. sahulensis was finally determined to be a distinct species based on its skeletal structure, genetics, habitat and capelike coloration pattern, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.
“It is pretty rare to have the opportunity to name a new cetacean species,” study co-author Howard Rosenbaum, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, wrote in an email to Live Science.Â “It is only [the] second species description of a new species of dolphin in the last 50 years.”