Chinese river dolphin

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Temporal range: Late Miocene-Present?[2]
Lipotes vexillifer.png
An illustration of the baiji
Baiji size.svg
Size compared to an average human size

Critically endangered, possibly extinct (IUCN 3.1)[3]
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Clade: Delphinida
Superfamily: Lipotoidea
Family: Lipotidae
Genus: Lipotes
Miller, 1918[4]
L. vexillifer
Binomial name
Lipotes vexillifer
Miller, 1918[4]
Cetacea range map Chinese River Dolphin.PNG
Natural range of the baiji

The Chinese river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) or baiji was a river dolphin. It was found only in the Yangtze River in China. The baiji was declared extinct in 2007 by the Chinese Academy of Science. Nobody exactly knows if baiji was really extinct because the last sighting(s) were in 2004.[source?]

Description[change | change source]

The baiji was a graceful animal, with a long, narrow and slightly upturned beak and a flexible neck. As opposed to some other freshwater dolphins, like the Indus River dolphin, its eyes were functional, although greatly reduced. Its coloration was bluish-gray to gray above and white to ashy-white below. It weighed 135 - 230 kg (300 - 510 lb) and measured as much as 2.5 m (8.2') in length.

Reasons for extinction[change | change source]

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) noted these threats to the species:

  • a period of hunting by humans during the Great Leap Forward,
  • entanglement in fishing gear,
  • the illegal practice of electric fishing,
  • collisions with boats and ships, habitat loss, and
  • pollution.

Further studies have noted the environmental impact of building the Three Gorges Dam on the living space of the baiji.[5]

It was the first dolphin species that humans have made extinct.

References[change | change source]

  1. Mead, J.G.; Brownell, R. L. Jr. (2005). "Order Cetacea". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 723–743. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. "Lipotes vexillifer (Chinese river dolphin)". Paleontological database.
  3. Smith, B.D.; Zhou, K.; Wang, D.; Reeves, R.R.; Barlow, J.; Taylor, B.L.; Pitman, R. (2008). "Lipotes vexillifer". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) 2008: e.T12119A3322533. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T12119A3322533.en. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Miller, Gerrit S. Jr. (1918). "A new river-dolphin from China". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 68 (9): 1–12. 
  5. Walters, Mark Jerome (November 1993). "Who speak for the baiji?". Animals (EBSCO) 126 (6): 6–6.