No, Researchers Didn't Discover A New Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Species
02 August, 2018, 22:00 | Author: Ted Wilson
Genetic analysis showed the whale-dolphin hybrid seemed to be a first-generation mixture of the two different species which, despite the melon-headed whale's name, are both actually members of the Delphinidae family. Both species belong to the Delphinidae (oceanic dolphin) family, but the report notes that cross-species unions between them are unusual: It's only the third recorded example in the Delphinidae family, and the first between these two species.
A team of scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective got a surprise past year. In the 11-day period, the scientists made hundreds of sightings of various species such as bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, sperm whales, and spinner dolphins.
A report published last week by ocean research organisation Cascadia Research Collective concluded that a mammal spotted off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, in August past year is indeed the product of mating between a dolphin and a whale.
To continue to study the tropical Hawaiian waters, the scientists plan to return to the coast in August where they spotted the animal to continue their research. "We were able to get a biopsy sample of the animal" as reported by express.co.uk.
News of the hybrid proves the 'genetic diversity of the ocean, ' Sea Life Park curator Jeff Pawloski said. "I always thought they were out there in the wild existing - it only makes sense", he said.
"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species", says marine biologist Robin Baird, lead author of a report in which the discovery is described. "And to know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an awesome thing to know".
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The hybrid was only traveling with one companion - a melon-headed whale.
Which is a technical way of saying this odd fellow didn't have look exactly like the other whales, but it also didn't look exactly like the other dolphins.
Hybrids generally occur when there's a decline in the population in one of the parental species, so scientists will be looking out for such a decline.
Scientists don't know how old it is but believe it's close to adult age.
The dolphin-whale hybridization is especially surprising in this region, as a sighting of melon-headed whales had never before been confirmed near the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) navy base.
Some hybrid animals, such as the mule - a hybrid of a male donkey and female horse - are mostly sterile and therefore can not propagate easily.
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