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New rare species of whale identified

July 28, 2016

Researchers have identified a new rare species of beaked whale with a range in the remote North Pacific Ocean.

The international team of experts searched museums and other sources for DNA samples to determine the existence of the new whale, which is smaller and darker in color than the more common Baird's beaked whale.

As described in a Marine Mammal Science article, the new species is an elusive, deep-diving whale about 25 feet long that is rarely seen, even by Japanese whalers who call the enigmatic whale "karasu," the Japanese word for raven.

"Every known specimen of this new whale found so far has been dead and, in most cases, decomposing on a remote sub-arctic beach," said Dr. Phillip Morin, lead author of the article. "Without a full skeleton of an adult animal or detailed measurements, we had to use forensic genetics to describe the evolutionary differences of this new species."
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Wiley

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