Scientists have discovered a unique hybrid of a Dolphin and a whale

Melon-headed whales swimming in tropical waters

Melon-headed whales swimming in tropical waters

However, this specific case is odd since only one melon-headed whale was seen mingling with a group of rough-toothed dolphins. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid. 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.

"The head shape appears intermediate between the two species, with a gently-sloping rostrum rather than the rounded-head of a melon-headed whales but which is truncated compared to rough-toothed dolphins", researchers said. Note that the hybrid shares some physical characteristics with members of both species, including the colorization of the whale and a snout that resembles his dolphin brethren. Like orcas, beluga whales and pilot whales, melon-headed whales are actually a species of dolphin, or delphinidae - and dolphins are a sub-family of whales to boot.

Baird told BuzzFeed News that the team will head back to Kauai in August, where they will try to determine whether the female melon-headed whale seen swimming alongside the "wholphin" past year is its mother.

The hybrid, pictured again in the foreground, was fathered by a rough-toothed dolphin, scientists said.

They were able to take a sample for a biopsy, which confirmed their suspicions.

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'Genetic analyses of a biopsy sample obtained from the putative hybrid in comparison to a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin indicated that the individual has the genotype expected for an F1 hybrid at 11 of 14 nucleotide positions, ' the authors wrote.

News of the hybrid spotted in the wild during navy-funded research to study the effects of sonar, proves the "genetic diversity of the ocean", Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski said.

Two of the ocean's most beloved sea creatures morph into one wonderful animal, as a team of researchers discovered in the past year. Robin Baird, a marine biologist who led the expedition, called it a "most unusual finding", and the first known hybrid between the species. There have been other cases of wholphins in the past, most notably at Hawaii's Sea Life Park aquarium in 1985, when a female bottlenose dolphin had a calf with a male false killer whale. For instance, perhaps when the mother was looking for a mate, she was unable to find a suitable one among her own species.

The hybrid, named Kekaimalu, still lives at the marine mammal park, where she helps teach children about genetics.

Scientists do not know how old the hybrid is, but believe it is close to adult age.

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