So, the bad news is, we don't have a new species of whale—or dolphin—on our hands.
The good news is, what we do have is still really, really cool.
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.
And while this is a new find, it's not quite a "new species," as is being reported web-wide.
This is so cool! More proof of #MotherNature's intelligence in face of human destruction of the planet. A hybrid of a female #MelonHeadedWhale and a male #RoughToothedDolphin created these #WhaleDolphins https://t.co/Fm01c7qudt pic.twitter.com/ywTri8QEWR— Adventures of a Mage in Miami (@MiamiMagus) July 29, 2018
In fact, both the rough-toothed dolphin and the melon-headed whale are technically both dolphins.
Both originated from the biological family Delphinidae. Despite the name "whale," which constitutes one of nine families of true whales, several species of dolphin carry the word whale in their names.
Killer whales (Orcas) are also Delphinidae or dolphins.
What's also cool is that, according to the study, this is only the 3rd example of a wild-born hybrid between two dolphin species in the same family (as opposed to the same genus, which is more common). As @joshsilberg notes, this "whale-dolphin hybrid" thing is a red herring. https://t.co/CGnp6YjQjy— Justin Gregg (@justindgregg) July 27, 2018
In all fairness, the lead researcher himself says “the father was a rough-toothed dolphin and the mother a melon-headed whale”. This same issue arises with the use of “killer whale” for an orca.— スコット (@y2skot) July 29, 2018
Robin Baird, a biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective spoke to CBS News about his findings.
“Based on the genetics, the father was a rough-toothed dolphin and the mother a melon-headed whale"
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more hybrids between the two species ― they do associate quite regularly...We don’t have any information on population trends for either species in Hawaii, so can’t say whether this is the case, but we’ll be looking for evidence of additional hybrids."
This article previously referred to the discovery as a "whale-dolphin hybrid," which is somewhat redundant. The melon-headed whale is not only a member of the Delphinidae family, making it a dolphin, but that family is a part of the infraorder Cetacea, making it a whale as well.— PT (@penellohpee) July 29, 2018
But some folks are already concerned about the new hybrids chances in the world.
if yall touch that new dolphin hybrid i swear to GOD i will call mother nature personally to punch you in the face— julia ☀️ (@juliacampooo) July 29, 2018
… and will soon most likely be driven to the brink of extinction!— Chakotay (@CDR_Chakotay) July 29, 2018
Don’t say that!— GabeTheTabby@MFM (@GabeTheTabby) July 29, 2018
If there’s new species, there can be hope of regeneration of old & new species
As the discovery is still very new, additional hybrids—though likely—have not been pinpointed yet.
Baird and associates plan to keep an eye on the two that were discovered through tracking to see what results it yields.
True love between a whale and a dolphin beats the odds! Are the offspring called Wolphin or Dale?— Patricia Garcia (@triciagarcia31) July 27, 2018