New Species of Tropical Pacific Beaked Whale?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 6th, 2007

In the latest edition of Marine Mammal Science there is an article about a likely new species of Mesoplodon (a beaked whale). As Robert Pitman says in an email tonight, “the last two years two new species of dolphins were also described in the pages of MMS – snubfin dolphin (Orcaella heinsohni) and costero (Sotalia guianensis). Genetics has revolutionized cetacean systematics – talk about cryptic species!”

The new Marine Mammal Science, 23(4): 954–966 (October 2007), carries an article entitled “A Divergent mtDNA Linegage Among Mesoplodon Beaked Whales: Molecular Evidence for a New Species in the Tropical Pacific?” by Merel L. Dalebout, C. Scott Baker, Debbie Steel, Kelly M. Robertson, Susan J. Chivers, William F. Perrin, James G. Mead, Robert V. Grace, and T. David Schofield.

Dalebout, et al. begin their paper with a concise locating of the significance of the DNA findings and recent discoveries issuing from such analysis:

DNA sequence data enable not only the inference of evolutionary relationships and population histories but also represent a powerful tool for uncovering hidden biodiversity, an approach that has become known as “DNA taxonomy” (Dalebout et al. 2002, Meegaskumbura et al. 2002, Hebert et al. 2004). The application of DNA taxonomy to beaked whales (Ziphiidae), the least known of all cetacean families, has led to some significant discoveries in recent years. These include the description of a new species from the North Pacific (Mesoplodon perrini; Dalebout et al. 2002), the resurrection of a long-forgotten species in the Southern Hemisphere (M. traversii; van Helden et al. 2002), and confirmation of the identity of the enigmatic “tropical bottlenose whale” (Indopacetus pacificus; Dalebout et al. 2003). The framework for these findings was provided by comprehensive data sets of DNA reference sequences for two mitochondrial (mtDNA) genes, the control region (CR) and cytochrome b (CYB), derived from validated voucher specimens identified by experts in beaked whale morphology.

During the sequencing of worldwide data sets, the scientists began to notice something, a couple tissue samples stood out. They found there was a highly divergent lineage represented by several recently discovered specimens from the tropical Pacific. They wrote that this “lineage is represented by two skulls (adult female 2 and immature of unknown sex) and associated tissue samples recovered from Palmyra Atoll Wildlife Refuge (5◦ 52 N, 162◦ 06 W), which appeared to be ginkgo-toothed beaked whales M. ginkgodens based on cranial morphology (as determined by WFP and JGM), and two tissue samples 3 collected from Tabiteuea Atoll, Republic of Kiribati (Gilbert Islands; 1◦ 24 N, 173◦ 6 E).”

But these specimens differ from M. ginkgodens. Found in the tropical and temperate waters of the Indo-Pacific, M. ginkgodens was first described in 1958 from a specimen collected in Tokyo, Japan.

The authors of the paper suggest that the Kiribati and Palmyra specimens could be a distinct subspecies of M. ginkgodens or a new species.

It appears another new beaked whale discovery has been made.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “New Species of Tropical Pacific Beaked Whale?”

  1. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Thats great news. Another “LARGE MAMMAL” discovery. That makes three in the past two years. Another good day for science.

  2. mystery_man responds:

    I think we are going to find other new cryptid beaked whale discoveries in the coming years. Great article.

  3. kolobe responds:

    It never fails to fascinate me what the ocean and the continents can reveal if only we took the time to look, sample and see what DNA testing reveals. We often know about or see these creatures but little do we realise that they are a “new species or genus”.

    In South Africa, as a hunter and conservationalist I often have requests to see the big five, but when I show the people a rare bird, a four meter python 2m in front of them, or something I know they have not seen before the interest is nil, sometimes even disgust.

    The oceans and lands are huge and harbour many creatures known to us or the indiginous people but not yet catorgorised.

  4. DARHOP responds:


  5. Tengu responds:

    Thats sad, Kolobe, Many years back, I contacted several tours `we have the big five!` `woss der big five?` I reply with a lion like yawn. `I want to see some baboons, some livley springbok and in particular a real african wildcat`

    they did not stock those supposedly common animals and so I stayed at home and spent the money on home decorating.

    we have four speicies of ziphidae common (as common as they will ever be, I mean not lone occurances) in GB but no one knows much about them.

    But i like them, if only for the fact that most are named for somebody

  6. MattBille responds:

    IIRC, Palmyra was also the locale for a puzzling sighting by the vessel B.P Admiral of waht looked like a beaked whale with a higher, more sickle-shaped dorsal fin than any known species.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

|Top | Content|

Connect with Cryptomundo

Cryptomundo FaceBook Cryptomundo Twitter Cryptomundo Instagram Cryptomundo Pinterest


Creatureplica Fouke Monster Sybilla Irwin


|Top | FarBar|

Attention: This is the end of the usable page!
The images below are preloaded standbys only.
This is helpful to those with slower Internet connections.