In the Tijamuchi River in Bolivia, 2 river dolphins were spotted playing. The strangest? They carried a Bolivian anaconda in their mouth. This animal is considered one of the most dangerous predators.

Researchers captured the encounter some time ago, in August 2021but until last month it had not been published, which has changed thanks to the journal Ecology.

These dolphins were “playing” with an Anaconda

The research team spotted a pod of dolphins as soon as they arrived at the site, so they started taking pictures of them. It was when they saw the images again that they noticed the snake with them, the study reports.

The researchers said it was clear the dolphins were playing with the other animal, rather than wanting to eat it, partly because the interaction lasted at least seven minutes.

At one point you could see the dolphins clinging to the anaconda and swimming at the same time. Reviewing the photos, the researchers noticed that the dolphins had erect penises, which also supported the idea that this was a playful interaction.

This kind of behavior has been documented before, because mammals tend to play a lot, but this was the first time such an interaction between dolphins and anacondas had been recorded.

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The researchers indicated that many questions remain and offered possible alternative explanations, including predation.

Bolivian anacondas are large semi-aquatic snakes, typically reaching a length of six feet, and so far have no known predators other than themselves. There is no published record of an animal capable of eating a Bolivian anaconda. The researchers said that the anaconda probably ended up dying from being submerged for so long during the encounter.

They also explained that it was possible that the dolphins were showing the anaconda to younger dolphins in the area. Or maybe these dolphins were also involved in a courtship attempt. Throughout history, male dolphins have been observed carrying objects to female dolphins.

Diana Reiss, a marine mammal specialist at Hunter College, who was not involved in the study, told The New York Times that the dolphins may have been sexually stimulated by the anaconda: “It could be rubbing. »