New species of Dwarf Manatee discovered in the Brazilian Amazon.11/09/2006 00:00:00
Marc van Roosmalen's (click Marc van Roosmalen to read more about his work and current predicament) latest discovery is a new species of dwarf manatee from the Brazilian Amazon. The Amazonian manatee was thought to be the only manatee fully adapted to living in fresh water, until the discovery of the Dwarf manatee, Trichechus Bernardi, or Prince Bernhard’s dwarf manatee.
The story started in September 2002 when Marc van Roosmalen collected a skull of a recently killed adult male. He had to wait for 2 years until he found living proof of the Dwarf manatee, when he was able to study and film a live specimen that was kept in a corral in its natural environment for 4 months. New species discoveries
Amazingly, new species are still being discovered all the time. New birds, sharks, snakes, frogs butterflies and even monkeys.
Click here to read about all the recent new discoveries.
Both specimens were adult males, and each measured 130 cms long and was about 90 cms in circumference. They weighed 60kgs each and have a short bristly snout. They are very dark, almost black in appearance with a white patch on the abdomen.
Habits and habitat
The Dwarf manatee seems to prefer the shallow, fast flowing streams of the Rio Arauazinho. When the river floods during the rainy season, it is reported that the dwarf manatees migrate upriver to the headwaters and shallow ponds that are not affected by seasonal flooding. They feed on semi-aquatic herbs that thrive on the bottom of shallow fast flowing streams.
Dwarf manatees are considered to be critically endangered as they are highly restricted ecologically and geographically. It is thought that there may be less than 100 individuals in this population, and they are not known from any other locality. They are hunted as game, and their habitat is highly susceptible to illegal mining of gravel and gold, timber extraction and commercial fishing.
Courtesy of Marc van Roosmalen.
To find out more about Marc, his work in the Amazon and the Dwarf manatee, click here.