No matter how much we learn about nature, there are always surprises awaiting us.
Last year, amid a series of research sponsored by the U.S. Navy, scientists came across an unusual hybrid between a whale and a dolphin. Hybrids have been known to occur in the wild between other species, but this is only the third time that a dolphin and a whale have had a confirmed offspring and the first time ever for these particular species thereof.
Via Mashable, the picture posted above features a melon-headed whale in the background and the newly discovered hybrid of the rough-toothed dolphin and melon-headed whale in the foreground. 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. Scientists from the Cascadia Research Collective observed the pair off the Hawaiian Islands and confirmed that the existence of the hybrid in August 2017.
The researchers also determined that the hybrid is a male and that he stayed particularly close to its melon-headed whale companion for the duration of the observation period. Both creatures were tagged with satellite tracking GPS, and they traveled over 475 miles together during the course of eight days. This suggests that the hybrid was not treated as an outcast by the melon-headed whales, although it's unclear how other rough-toothed dolphins would react to it.
This hybrid is a remarkable creation, and he may even be one of a kind. 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.
What do you think about the dolphin and whale hybrid? Let us know in the comment section below!
Image: Kimberly A. Wood/Cascadia Research