No, Researchers Didn't Discover A New Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Species

No, Researchers Didn't Discover A New Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Species

No, Researchers Didn't Discover A New Whale-Dolphin Hybrid Species

Note that the hybrid shares some physical characteristics with members of both species, including the colorization of the whale and a snout that resembles his dolphin brethren.

In an email to Huffington Post, Baird adds that the genetics revealed the creature's father was a rough-toothed dolphin, while the mother was a melon-headed whale.

In 2017, before future naval officers trained on submarines in the waters around Kauai - a place called the Pacific Missile Range Facility - the U.S. Navy hired marine researchers from the Cascadia Research Collective to study the native animals in these seas.

Despite the fact that earlier hybrids among different species of whales and dolphins have been recorded, the baby of these two species found for the first time.

However, it wasn't until a biopsy that they were able to confirm their suspicions.

Baird told BuzzFeed News that the team will head back to Kauai in August, where they will try to determine whether the female melon-headed whale seen swimming alongside the "wholphin" previous year is its mother.

"What could have happened is that the mother, a melon-headed whale may, have become separated from her pod, begun to stay with single rough-toothed dolphins, and become used to swimming with the other species", Baird said. The latter is a rarity in Hawaii, The Garden-Island reported.

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He said: "That isn't the case, although there are example where hybridisation has resulted in a new species".

The dolphin hybrid was a rare find, but crosses between species in the animal kingdom are actually quite common.

Scientists who found the specimen tracked numerous species during a study off the island of Kauai a year ago. However, though it's an exciting discovery, researchers point out it is not, as commonly thought, a new species. "It isn't and shouldn't be considered a new species", Robin Baird, a biologist with the research group, told HuffPost.

After all, individual hybrid cases are not usually officially recognized as new species since many hybrids are unable to reproduce.

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.

Melon-headed whales, he explains, usually travel together in groups of around 250. There have been other cases of wholphins in the past, most notably at Hawaii's Sea Life Park aquarium in 1985, when a female bottlenose dolphin had a calf with a male false killer whale.

But an animal hybrid doesn't necessarily mean a new species - not even established hybrids, such as the mule. For one thing, hybrids can occur when the paternal species goes through a population drop and "individuals have difficulty finding mates".

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