New Species of Dwarf Manatee Discovered



From Marc van Roosmalen:

Wherever I know of new mammals occuring in the Amazon I look up the locals, Indians or mestizos, who are already hunting them for subsistence. Instead of throwing the uneatable left-over into the river, I ask them to save this precious material for me. In order to describe animals new to science I have to first deposit relevant biological material - skin and/or skull - in a Brazilian zoological collection. That would then serve as the holotype or type specimen – a reference accessible to anyone. A tissue sample should always be taken for later DNA analysis. Following this procedure I have been able to collect and publish a number of new monkeys and other mammals. Presently, I am on the track of at least 20 more new monkey species occuring in different parts of the Brazilian Amazon. Even more surprisingly, I am after at least 17 large-bodied mammals I assume to be new to science, ground-dwelling or semi-aquatic, occuring only in one Amazon river basin.

My goal as a field biologist is to use new species as an ethical means to save entire ecosystems in the Amazon. Having lived for over 20 years in the Amazon I am convinced that this can only be achieved through political and economic pressure from the outside world. With support I can continue my research and publish more unique discoveries in prestigious print journals, and we may well encourage the Brazilian Government to declare certain Amazonian river basins National Parks or UNESCO “World Heritage Sites”.



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