Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rare river dolphin declared extinct

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The unique freshwater dolphin known as, Yangtze river dolphin found only in China is now "likely to be extinct", a team of scientists has concluded. They failed to spot any Yangtze river dolphins, also known as baijis, during an extensive six-week survey of the mammals' habitat.

The team, writing in Biology Letters journal, blamed unregulated fishing as the main reason behind their demise.

If confirmed, it would be the first extinction of a large vertebrate for over 50 years.

The World Conservation Union's Red List of Threaten Species currently classifies the creature as "critically endangered".

"The Yangtze river dolphin was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species over 20 million years ago," Dr Turvey explained.

"This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life and emphasises that we have yet to take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet." Link




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