A study of cranial shape in dolphins of genus Sotalia was done using 104 specimens (92 from localities along the Brazilian coast and 12 from the Amazon River basin). Twenty-two cranial landmarks, assumed to be homologous, were selected for analysis. The first 2 principal components of aligned coordinates explained 40.6% of the total variation in cranial shape. Although no sexual dimorphism was detected (P = 0.811), shape differences among populations of Sotalia were highly significant (P < 0.000001). The 1st and 2nd principal components of shape showed that the Sotalia population from the Amazon basin differed in cranial shape from marine populations. Based on differences in geometric shape, a discriminant analysis of 3 linear measurements between landmarks provided an equation that classified skulls as belonging to Amazonian or marine populations. Based on these results and evidence from several other divergent character systems and life history attributes, we suggest the use of Sotalia guianensis for marine dolphins and S. fluviatilis for Amazonian dolphins.
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