Scientists: 1st sighting of dolphin hybrid is no ‘wholphin’

One of the species that makes up this hybrid is very rare in Hawaii making the discovery even more remarkable

One of the species that makes up this hybrid is very rare in Hawaii making the discovery even more remarkable

And, perhaps surprisingly, you might even be a hybrid yourself, considering scientists have identified slight traces of Neanderthal DNA in humans.

The rare creature has predictably been termed a "wholphin" in media coverage, but Dr Robin Baird, one of the study's authors, has urged reporters to resist the tempting portmanteau.

'I think calling it a wholphin just confuses the situation more than it already is'. One melon-headed whale was also spotted chilling with a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

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

While the discovery of this hybrid's existence is certainly a great accomplishment, Huffington Post cautions that calling it an entirely new species - which many reports have been doing - may be jumping the gun.

The cross appears to be the first instance of a wild-born hybrid between the two species.

Manyoutlets described the creature as a "wholphin".

The melon-headed whales are typically found in deep, tropical waters across the globe.

The cetacean was first spotted in August 2017, by researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective on a two-week field trip funded by the US Navy to document marine life around the Pacific Missile Range Facility ahead of a training course. Genetic analysis showed the whale-dolphin hybrid seemed to be a first-generation mixture of the two different species which, despite the melon-headed whale's name, are both actually members of the Delphinidae family. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid.

To continue to study the tropical Hawaiian waters, the scientists plan to return to the coast in August where they spotted the animal to continue their research.

Baird continued to explain that the "morphological appearance" of the animal promoted researchers to get a biopsy sample.

About the discovery of a new species of dolphins, scientists have not yet spoken, because it is not known whether this is a new animal to create viable offspring.

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

The male hybrid presents an opportunity to look for others.

A likely scenario for how the hybrid came to be a melon-headed whale getting separated from its group and ending up travelling with rough-toothed dolphins.

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

It's unclear if this is true for this latest hybrid animal. Kekaimalu, the only known living first-generation wolphin, which is a cross between a false killer whale and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a female calf in 2004, and today the two live together at Oahu's Sea Life Park.

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