London: Dutch researchers have identified a new type of dolphin, which appears to have had a broad snout and balloon-like forehead, from a fossil found in the North Sea two years ago.
The newly identified dolphin has a short, spoon-shaped nose and high, bulbous forehead and belongs to the family of marine mammals known as Delphinids -- the ocean-going dolphins that actually include both killer and pilot whales, reports the BBC.
Researchers at the Natural History Museum, Rotterdam, have named it Platalearostrum hoekmani after Albert Hoekman, a Dutch fisherman who trawled up a bone from the creature’s skull in 2008.
The so-called rostrum’s bone is one of tens of thousands of fossils found during bottom-trawling in the North Sea in recent decades, museum researchers Klaas Post and Erwin Kompanje reported in the museum’s journal ‘Deinsea’.
The six-metre-long dolphin is believed to have lived two to three million years ago.
The fossil bone shows an unusually large tip region containing six teeth known as the premaxilla, suggesting the broad, blunt nature of the creature’s snout, said the researchers.
Based on analyses of similar fossils and modern relatives within the family, the researchers are convinced they have found a new species whose closest living relative is the pilot whale.
The fossil and a model of the dolphin are on display at museum.