Forrest Galante With The Caiman He Caught Wide Shot

EXTINCT OR ALIVE 2

Forrest Galante With The Caiman He Caught Wide Shot

Believed-Extinct Rio Apaporis Caiman Rediscovered

By: Thom Fusco

The believed-extinct Rio Apaporis caiman (Caiman crocodilus apaporiensis) has been captured by Forrest Galante, wildlife biologist and host of Animal Planet’s EXTINCT OR ALIVE, and team, making history once again.

The caiman species, native to the FARC rebel-controlled Colombian Amazon rainforest, is a crocodilian that has been believed to be extinct since the 1980s. With a unique elongated snout and light-yellow skin, this crocodilian looks unlike any other in the world.

Galante and his dedicated crew embarked on a journey into the heart of a drug-controlled jungle, through harsh and lawless lands in hope of finding the Rio Apaprois caiman. “It’s a bizarre circumstance to be in a place where guerilla warfare has resulted in the protection of an ecosystem,” Galante remarked. Thanks to careful planning, great timing, and relentless perseverance, the team became the first westerners in over 30 years to set foot in this land and come back alive.

“Finding not just one, but a thriving population of Rio Apaporis caiman, in an area that we we’re told was completely inaccessible to westerners—going against the odds and danger after years of research and planning—was a flurry of emotions, the strongest of which was massive excitement followed by sincere encouragement,” Galante said.

Galante collected a number of genetic samples from living Rio Apaporis caimans on the expedition. Analysis of the samples, confirmed that the caiman Galante and team discovered are, in fact, the Rio Apaporis caiman.

The data not only confirmed the caiman’s identity, but it also met the criteria to describe a whole new species that has a unique evolutionary lineage dating back up to 7 million years.

A Colombian scientist named Sergio Balaguera-Reina has also discovered the caiman and published a paper on it this year. “The ongoing conservation work by an in-country scientist like Sergio is the best news of all,” Galante added.

See Galante and team make this massive discovery on EXTINCT OR ALIVE, airing on December 4 at 9P on Animal Planet or Animal Planet GO.

Next Up

How Frogs Boost Their Sex Appeal

Male frogs form ‘boy bands’ to serenade females and woo them into their mating pool.

If A Bat Were To Bite You In Your Sleep, You'd Probably Never Know

Rabies is rare, but most cases are associated with bats.

The Acrobats of the Skunk World

These seven species of spotted skunks can do handstands, but that’s not the only secret they’re hiding.

Do Octopuses Dream?

New footage shows a sleeping octopus changing colors, indicating the creature may be dreaming.

Tuskless Elephants Evolved to Escape Poachers

Unnatural selection: After being targeted by ivory poachers in Mozambique, elephants are being born without tusks at an increasing rate.

Lemurs Can Sing with Rhythm

Researchers found the first nonhuman animal that can keep a beat.

Thousands of Tree Species Remain Undiscovered, say Scientists

There are around 9,200 tree species still to be discovered, most of them in the tropics, an incredible new study has revealed.

Digging Sea Otters Stimulate Sexual Reproduction in Seagrass

Hungry sea otters improve the genetic diversity of eelgrass when digging for clams among aquatic vegetation, found scientists.

Bat Pups Babble like Babies

Baby greater sac-winged bats show similarities to human babies in the way they string together syllabus before they can learn to “talk.”

Is Summer Taking Over All Seasons?

A recent study found that the summer season is at risk of lasting too long and the other seasons potentially doomed with declining duration. At first, you might be excited about this news. However, let's talk through what it means.