Here’s What You Get When a Whale and a Dolphin Mate

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

The family covers sea dolphins and some whales, which is why inter-species breeding is possible.

The discovery was first made by researchers with the collective previous year, though the report detailing the hybrid - the product of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin - was released this week.

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. And, perhaps surprisingly, you might even be a hybrid yourself, considering scientists have identified slight traces of Neanderthal DNA in humans. Despite the name "whale", which constitutes one of nine families of true whales, several species of dolphin carry the word whale in their names.

A genetic analysis revealed the animal was likely a first-generation hybrid between a female melon-headed whale (a rarely seen type of dolphin) and a male rough-toothed dolphin, marking what's thought to be the first-ever documented discovery of a hybrid between the two mammals.

The hybrid, pictured again in the foreground, was fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin, scientists said. That's because a melon-headed whale is one of the various species that's called a whale but is technically a dolphin.

Scientists are reluctant to use the term, however, and Dr Baird said the animals can not be considered their own species without more widespread hybridisation.

The organization wrote in a paper on Friday that after a biopsy of a sample collected from the creature in August 2017, suspicions were confirmed: The offspring of two species never before been known to mate, despite occasionally swimming in mixed groups, well, had.

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say
Scientists discover rare dolphin-whale hybrid near Hawaii

The research team will return to Kauai next week, hoping to confirm their theory.

And while this is a new find, it's not quite a "new species", as is being reported web-wide.

"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.

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.

The hybrid was only traveling with one companion - a melon-headed whale.

The deceptive label was widely-used for a false killer whale - the third largest species of dolphin - and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin born in 1985 at Hawaii's Sea Life Park.

Hybrids generally occur when there is a decline in the population in one of the parental species, so scientists will be looking out for such a decline.

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