Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Don't call dolphin hybrid spotted off Hawaii a 'wholphin'

Don't call dolphin hybrid spotted off Hawaii a 'wholphin'

However, reports identifying the animal as a "wholphin" are entirely false, they say.

The melon-headed whale is one of the various species that's called a whale but is technically a dolphin.

"I think calling it a wholphin just confuses the situation more than it already is".

The new hybrid marine mammal is part rough-toothed dolphin and part melon-headed whale - which presents all kinds of opportunities for portmanteau names should these creatures become more common.

"Such hybridization, where the genetic data of one species is integrated into another, has always been suspected as a source of taxonomic uncertainty in dolphins, and this case lends support to that", Baird added.

Hybrids generally occur when there is a decline in the population in one of the parental species.

It didn't, for example, have the rounded head of melon-headed whales, and yet its beak was shorter than those of rough-toothed dolphins. This, too was unusual, given that melon-headed whales typically travel in groups of 200-300.

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Manyoutlets described the creature as a "wholphin".

Kimberly A Wood/Cascadia Research The hybrid is in the front, with the melon-headed whale that researchers suspect is the mother. Aww!

The animal, which was first spotted off the island of Kauai in August 2017, appears to be the first record of a hybrid involving either species.

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. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid.

The Navy-funded research had aimed to study the effects of sonar.

The so-called wolphin has been confirmed by scientists after it was spotted on a research trip near Kauai island.

'Genetic analyses of a biopsy sample obtained from the putative hybrid in comparison to a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin indicated that the individual has the genotype expected for an F1 hybrid at 11 of 14 nucleotide positions, ' the authors wrote.

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It's unknown whether this new animal - which the researchers named Steno bredanensis - could produce viable offspring, but in any case, one hybrid animal does not make a new species.

He said: "Calling it something like a wholphin doesn't make any sense".

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one fantastic animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year.

Science known cases where genetic hybrids are either completely sterile, or are reproduced with great difficulty, as is the case with the mule - a hybrid of a donkey and a Mare.

Melon-headed whales, he explains, usually travel together in groups of around 250.

The male "wholphin", which is believed to be close to adult age, was spotted swimming with dolphins near the island of Kauai a year ago, according to Dr Robin Baird, the marine biologist who headed the expedition.

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