Researchers have made a whale of discovery – a hybrid of a whale whale and a narwhal.
DNA analysis of the skull of the whale confirmed that this is the male offspring of a naughty mother and father of a beluga, researchers report 20 in Scientific Reports .
The animal was one of three unusual whales caught during a hunt for subsistence in 1986 or 1987 in the Green Bay of Disco Greenland, and the only one with all known remnants. The three whales were equally gray, with pectoral fins, shaped like nibs and tails.
The Inuit trawler, who gave the skull to the researchers, said he had never seen such strange whales before or after, says Elin Lorenzen, an evolutionary biologist and curator at the National Museum of Denmark at the Copenhagen University where the skull is housed. Disco Bay is one of the few places where servants and narcils overlap during the mating season.
The previous DNA analysis of the skull at the age of decades is "disgusting," Lorenzen says. So she and her colleagues used techniques to analyze ancient DNA to find that the animal had approximately 50-50 blends of DNA of beluga and narval, making it a first-generation hybrid ( SN: 1
his teeth, which did not look like those of the two arctic species, says Randall Reeves, a whale biologist who presides over the International Cetacean Conservation Union. Reeves has helped describe the skull as a potential hybrid decades ago but has not been involved in the new study. Naral women do not have teeth, while the men of Narval have one, sometimes two, spiral teeth that pierce through their lips, forming the famous "tusk". The male hybrid has teeth that are pointed forward, but not the long tooth of the knuckle.
it is unclear whether sometimes the quill prevents nasal mating, but this is a distinctive feature that could warn a beluga woman that the male narwhal is a different species. On the other hand, female nymphs have a similar size and shape with female servants and can be more easily mistaken for them, says Reeves, who is in Hudson, Canada. "A female narwal that is impregnated by a male blouse is quite plausible."
However, pairing is unusual, even shocking for some researchers who have researched the species for years, without even guessing about such interweaving. The venerable and narwhal branches of the kennel tree broke away about 5 million years ago – at about the same time that the human ancestors and the ancestors of the chimpanzee had separated in a different way. The Lorenzen team has also found no evidence of hybridization over the past 1.5 million years in DNA of other servants and mums. So when the team presented the findings of a conference of Beluga researchers held in Mystic, Conn. drop when we said it was a first-generation hybrid, "says Lorenzen. "They were so surprised."
Given that people rarely see whales in the remote Arctic, it's hard to tell if the hybrid is accidental, says Christine Lider, biologist and narwale expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. , "I do not think this is quite common," or large hunting livestock may have led to other specimens, she says. "But I would not be surprised if there are other hybrids."