Researchers Tuesday revealed that a previously unknown species of dolphin was found in the oceans 20 millions years ago. This included the waters that covered Switzerland, a country located at the heart Europe's center.
The island of Switzerland consisted of low-lying areas that were covered by ocean, teeming in fish, sharks, dolphins and mussels, as well as a seabed populated with sea urchins and mussels.
Researchers from Zurich University's Paleontological Institute discovered two species previously unknown after studying around 300 fossils of dolphins and whales found in Switzerland.
The researchers analyzed fragments of vertebrae, teeth, and bones found in layers under the Upper Marine Molasse to find the bones. They also sought out the inner ear bones, which are less common, as they permit species classification.
In a statement, Gabriel Aguirre, paleontologist, stated that "we managed to identify two familys of dolphins previously undiscovered in Switzerland."
Researchers used micro-computed imaging to create 3D models of the ears.
Aguirre stated that this helped to better understand the hearing abilities of dolphins.
The study was published by PeerJ scientific publishing site. It found that extinct animals were closely related to sperm whales today.
This is the second paleontological discovery in Switzerland of marine animals in recent weeks.
Reuters reported last month that scientists had discovered ichthyosaurs, a marine reptile of whale size, on the top of three Swiss Alps mountains.