Half whale-half dophin spotted for first time off coast of Hawaii

Rare whale-dolphin hybrid discovered in Hawaii, scientists say

That's because a melon-headed whale is one of the various species that's called a whale but is technically a dolphin.

The animal was seen previous year, 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. Perhaps in the future, there could be more dolphin and whale hybrids, but it remains to be seen if this previously rare event will become more commonplace down the line.

"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.

"Before you go tie your head in knots wondering how a whale managed to successfully reproduce with a dolphin - it didn't". Below the leading edge of the dorsal fin, the patterns on it were like those of melon-headed whales, but at the base of and immediately below the dorsal fin, it had darker-colored blotches, similar to those found on rough-toothed dolphins.

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.

Labelling the newly discovered hybrid a "wholphin" may mean people wrongly assume it is a cross between two very different animals, scientists said. There's still limited information on the Hawaiian populations of the two species involved, so further studies are necessary to determine whether this played a role in the hybrid's birth. Both were spotted in a pod of rough-toothed dolphins.

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

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.

The male hybrid presents an opportunity to look for others. The creature they now call Steno bredanensis is actually made even more unusual by the fact that the species that makes up half of its genes, the melon-headed whales, do not often swim in those waters.

A likely scenario for how the hybrid came to be is a melon-headed whale getting separated from its group and ending up traveling with rough-toothed dolphins. This, the researchers believe, could be the hybrid's mother, who is now living with her new family.

Many animal hybrids are possible, but few survive past the first generation.

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