Extinct Whale Found: Pygmy Right Whale DNA Analysis Released (Photo)

Filed in Animals, Science, World by on December 19, 2012 0 Comments

The pygmy right whale which is found only in a narrow band of waters near the South Pole and rarely comes to shore is last relative alive of an ancient group of whales which were believed to be extinct. Last Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B present its findings on how and why this kind of whale is different from other living and kind of whale.

Extinct whale found

Image Credit: Darryl Wilson, University of Otago

“The living pygmy right whale is, if you like, a remnant, almost like a living fossil,” said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. “It’s the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around.”

This whale grows to just 21 feet long, lives out in the open ocean and is the smallest and least conspicuous baleen whale, resulting in it being one of the least known species. They are not always seen by the naked eye so scientist would almost know nothing about its kind.

The strange creature’s arched, frownlike snout makes it look oddly different from other living whales. DNA analysis suggested pygmy right whales diverged from modern baleen whales such as the blue whale and the humpback between 17 million and 25 million years ago. However, the pygmy whales’ snouts suggested they were more closely related to the family of whales that includes the bowhead whale. Yet there were no studies of fossils showing how the pygmy whale had evolved, Marx said.

It is good that there still species of this kind that is still alive and people in science would still be near the truth on ancient mammal creatures of the sea.

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