A report published last week by ocean research organisation Cascadia Research Collective concluded that a mammal spotted off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, in August past year is indeed the product of mating between a dolphin and a whale. The organization focuses on marine mammal and bird biology, animal behavior, ecology and pollution.
A new species of aquatic mammal, a hybrid of a whale and a dolphin, has been identified in waters near Hawaii.
The hybrid had a typical melon-headed whale's dorsal fin shape and dorsal cape, but it was also blotchy in pigmentation and had a sloping forehead, more reminiscent of a rough-toothed dolphin.
The hybrid was the team's "most unusual finding", said project lead Robin Baird.
The cross-species hybridization may seem weird, but is made possible by the fact that melon-headed whales aren't actually whales.
It also isn't the first discovery of hybridization in the family - there have also been cases of bottlenose dolphin/false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) hybrids, known as Wolphins, and common/bottlenose dolphin hybrids.
An animal that appears to be a hybrid of a rough-toothed dolphin and a melon-headed whale was spotted off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, in August of 2017, according to The Huffington Post.
While surveying whales and dolphins off the Hawaiian Islands, scientists spotted a creature they've never seen before: a peculiar hybrid between a dolphin and a small whale. The family covers sea dolphins and some whales, which is why inter-species breeding is possible.
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. Nor was it exactly a rough-toothed dolphin, which are common to the area.
A mule, for instance, is a hybrid between a male donkey and a female horse. A new report from Cascadia Research Collective confirms they did and the new sea creature is the result of a whale and a dolphin mating, the team's head researcher told CBS News.
"Such hybridization, where the genetic data of one species is integrated into another, has always been suspected as a source of taxonomic uncertainty in dolphins, and this case lends support to that", Baird added.