Friday, September 27, 2019

DNA of Strange Whale Confirms it is a Hybrid of Belugas and Narwhals

Back in 1987 an Inuit tribe hunted belugas and narwhals in Disko Bay in Greenland. They ended up catching a strange oddity. Locals said they had never seen a stranger looking whale in their lives or since that moment. Past DNA analysis revealed nothing about the mysterious skull and the case remained a mystery, until recently that is. Recently, scientist cracked the case open and started to examine the DNA and structure of the skull and compared it to the skulls of similar marine life in the area, particularly belugas and narwhals. What they found was that the skull was actually a hybrid of both species. After tracking narwhal and beluga mating patterns, the pieces of the puzzle were finally put together. It was determined that Disko Bay was one of the very few places where belugas and narwhals mate. And they also concluded that because female belugas look so much like female narwhals, it is easy to mistake them, even to male narwhals.
beluga, hybrid and narwhal skulls

I find the research interesting in that it took so long to confirm. Just looking at the skulls, it looks like an evolution chart rather than a hybrid comparison. I also think it is interesting how the gene exert a sort of co-dominance in the mouth to show some teeth.

1 comment:

  1. This was pretty interesting as I never knew belugas and narwhals were so closely related, and that they could produce a hybrid of the two. It's nice to see that the the scientists were able to figure out what it was in the end.