We all know the Earth still has more and stranger species than we've discovered, or at least it will until we clear-cut and climate-bomb them right into extinction. But you usually figure these fragile exotic lifeforms are hanging out in caves under Madagascar, or somewhere else that's tough to get to. Turns out, though, that at least some of them have been chiling near Melbourne, Australia, where researchers have discovered a new species of dolphin just basically right under their noses. 

This is only the third new dolphin species recognized since the late 1800s, though maybe others are out there masquerading as standard-issue dolphins. Researchers had lumped the new species, called Tursiops australis, in with other local bottlenose dolphins until now. That's a picture of T. australis above — how could anyone have thought it was a bottlenose? Please!

There are at least 150 of the new dolphins living in the Melbourne area. That's a small enough population that T. australis may graduate from official nonexistence right onto the endangered species list. Now we know that they're there, we can protect them.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

"The formal recognition of this new species is of great importance to correctly manage and protect this species, and has significant bearing on the prioritisation of conservation efforts," the authors wrote.

"This is especially crucial given its endemism to a small region of the world, with only two small known resident populations."

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.