Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

The whale-dolphin hybrid is the first recorded example of an offspring of melon-headed whales and rough-toothed dolphins, and only the third recorded sighting of a Delphinidae hybrid in the wild.

The animal was seen a year ago, but a new report from Cascadia Research Collective confirms the sea creature is the result of a whale and a dolphin mating, the team's head researcher told CBS News. After encountering a large pod of melon-headed whales, the researchers tagged two of them, to see where they might go.

Scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective observed the pair off the Hawaiian Islands and confirmed that the existence of the hybrid in August 2017.

"It's the first record of a hybrid in the wild involving either of these species", Robin Baird, a research biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective, told ABC News.

The hybrid was spotted spending most of its time alongside another melon-headed whale by scientists on a two-week tagging and monitoring effort.

So, the bad news is, we don't have a new species of whale-or dolphin-on our hands. And this is the first in the history of such a hybrid. Soon after, they were able to get DNA, which led them to the definitive conclusion that it was indeed a hybrid of the two species.

The researchers were in the area to study the marine mammals and other creatures that live in the area around the Pacific Missile Range Facility.

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

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But as Quanta Magazine explains, isolated occurrences of individual hybrids aren't typically considered new species, either because the hybrids can not reproduce or because lone hybrids are apt to just get reabsorbed into existing species by mating with an animal that's the same species as one of its parents.

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.

Hybrids can be the effect of a population drop in one species and an individual experiences difficulty in finding a mate.

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

Scientists do not know how old the hybrid is, but believe it is close to adult age.

Killer whales (Orcas) are also Delphinidae or dolphins.

This latest hybrid animal is not the first to be branded with the "wholfin" name.

That hybrid, named Kekaimalu, still lives at the marine mammal park, where she helps teach children about genetics.

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