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Indus and Ganges river dolphins are two different species

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    14th Apr, 2021


The detailed analysis of South Asian river dolphins has revealed that the Indus and Ganges River dolphins belong to two separate species.

Key findings of the study

  • Parameters: The study was conducted on the body growth, skull morphology, tooth counts, coloration, and genetic makeup of the species.
  • DNA study: The study also took the DNA analysis of mitochondrial DNA.
  • The DNA sequence analysis shows that they both are quite different.

Mitochondrial DNA 

  • It is a small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria.
  • Mitochondria are found in all eukaryotic cells and which is known as the powerhouse of the cell.
  • The mitochondria, and the mitochondrial DNA, are passed from mother to offspring through the egg cell.
  • Divergence:The study shows that they both are divergent species and may have diverged around 550,000 years ago.

Indus River Dolphin

  • Location: They are found only in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan and River Beas, India.
  • Characteristics: They have adapted to life in the muddy river and are functionally blind.
    • They rely on echolocation to navigate, communicate.
    • They hunt prey including prawns, catfish, and carp.

Ganges River Dolphin

  • The Ganges river dolphin (Platanistagangetica) is a freshwater species of dolphin.
  • Location:The Ganges river dolphin is found in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Bangladesh and India.
    • A few individuals of this species also survive in Nepal in the Karnali River and possibly the SaptaKosi River.
    • The species is extinct from most of its early distribution ranges.
  • Characteristics: It is essentially blind and hunts by emitting ultrasonic sounds.
    • Females are larger than males.

Conservation Status of both the species

  • It is enlisted as Endangered under IUCN.
  • International trade is prohibited under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • It is protected under Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act.
  • It is also listed as endangered by the US government National Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act.
  • The species is listed in Appendix Iand Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.