New Dolphin Discovered Off Australia

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 15th, 2011

Researchers have determined that dolphins found in southeastern Australia represent a previously unknown species.

Around 150 of the dolphins live around the Melbourne area and had until now been assumed to be one of the known bottlenose dolphins.

But detailed DNA studies and analysis of skulls in museums showed the two populations are in fact a new species.

The new classification as Tursiops australis is described in PLoS One.

The common name of Burrunan dolphins derives from the Aboriginal Australian for “large sea fish of the porpoise kind”.

Previous research had shown that the DNA found in the dolphins differed from that of the known bottlenose speciesTursiops truncatus and Tursiops aduncus.

But in order to define a new species, more evidence is needed. Kate Charlton-Robb of Monash University in Melbourne and her colleagues studied dolphin skulls found in a number of museums, as well as more detailed analysis of DNA, to show that T. australis is clearly a different animal.

“This is an incredibly fascinating discovery as there have only been three new dolphin species formally described and recognised since the late 1800s,” Ms Charlton-Robb said. “What makes this even more exciting is this dolphin species has been living right under our noses, with only two known resident populations living in Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria state.”

More, see here.

Update: Chad Arment passes along that this may be locally called the Burrunan.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “New Dolphin Discovered Off Australia”

  1. Hapa responds:

    Excellet breakthrough. Makes me think of the time that the African Forest Elephant was discovered to be a species of elephant different from the African Bush Elephant.

    How would a Pseudo Skeptic respond to this Dolphin discovery?

    “Hmm, they’re seeing Planet Venus.”, perhaps while sniffing swamp gas

  2. not even wrong responds:


    Like the elephant example you give, no one argued that these dolphins did not exist. They just didn’t know they were genetically different. Big difference between something like that and saying there is a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot roaming the woods.

  3. DWA responds:

    This isn’t that amazing. That photo looks like the bottlenose, and skull analysis was required to come to the conclusion.

    I long suspected the African forest elephant to be a different species from the bush elephant. It looks as different from the latter as the Indian elephant does.

    And no, I’m not on the bandwagon saying that this is ‘hope for bigfoot.’ Some finds are (the saola, for example). But most science is performed on what is already known. The constant study of the animals we know, to find out more about them, will inevitably yield things like this. Even tiny animals are found when we are doing intensive studies of places either known or new – particularly when previous finds tell us to look for animals like them where we haven’t looked before.

  4. Bele responds:

    Yet another victory for cryptozoologists!!!!

  5. Scopi responds:

    How is this possibly a victory for cryptozoologists? These aren’t new animals. This is a new study of two populations of dolphins that were thought to be Tursiops truncatus or maybe Tursiops aduncus that turned out to be something slightly different. Nothing new was found. Something that was well known was reclassified.

    Your responses, and your straw man attacks on “Pseudo skeptics,” are very illuminating of the cryptozoological mindset, though.

  6. Hapa responds:


    I was simply Joking. Though if some Pseudo skeptics think they can get away with trying to lay the blame for the Mothman (5-7 feet tall, bat wings) on a common Barn owl (18 inches tall, feathered wings), which is a commonly known and witnessed animal, including in the region where the sightings occurred (and therefore hardly to be confused with a 5-7 foot mutant mothman, anymore than a dog, which is also common, could be confused with an Andrewsarchus), then I think the jab is, though not a literal poke (I would never think that even Michael Shermer would ever dispute a find like this), is a symbolic one.


    I agree: I can hardly see how this finding could shed light on the Bigfoot case. Its only a reminder that, not only are there animal species out there that have yet to be discovered, but some, like the Forest elephant, are right under our noses, ie. that are listed as an already known animal, when it could be something more.


    Remember: I am not dissing real Skeptics. A True Skeptic merely takes an agnostic view on such phenomena as Cryptids until final proof one way or the other is shown (not buying into it being either false or true until enough evidence either way is collected and revealed): a Pseudo-Skeptic goes of the mindset that A. no matter what, no matter the evidence, it is false, and B. how can I better fix the evidence to show this to the public, my intended target. It is one thing to make a good argument against say Chupacabras (Sightings and bodies of mangy canines, mix species or pure wolf, coyotes, Dogs, etc, and combined with the Chupa fervor in Puerto Rico, which may or may not have been based on the movie “Species”) or Bigfoot (why hasn’t one been hit by a car) and another to be pig headed about such phenomena (Bigfoot is not real, therefore it does not exist, therefore I am the arbiter of its (hopeful) debunking).

  7. Atkin Co Sasquatch responds:

    Scopi this is a victory for cryptozoologist and cryptozoology.

    Cryptozoology has 3 catogories of Cryptids.

    1. Hidden species
    2. Species thought to be extinct but have been discovered to exist.
    3. Misidentifications. This Dolphin falls into this catagory. It was thought to be one of the known bottlenose dophins but found to be a new species.

    All the best. Bryan

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