A new species of extinct dolphin has just been named – after a scuba diver. US underwater fossil-collector Ron Ison found the fossilised partial skull of the new-to-science fish on a riverbed in North Carolina.
The dolphin would have lived in the ocean in prehistoric times. It has now been named Isoninia borealis after Ison, with the suffix “inia” referring to the Amazon pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) to which his find is most closely related.
The species name “borealis” refers to the fact that Ison’s find is the only known specimen to have been discovered in the Northern Hemisphere.
The diver found the skull on a dive in what was described as “the murky, fallen-tree entangled conditions” of North Carolina’s Meherrin River. He later donated it to the Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) in Solomons, Maryland
Two other freshwater dolphins living in South American river basins, Inia boliviensis and Inia araguaiaensis, could also be descendants of the prehistoric oceanic species.