First Known Naturally Occurring Marine Mammal Hybrid

Written by on January 13, 2014 in Marine Life

Daily Summary

Clymene dolphin, Stenella clymene.

Clymene dolphin, Stenella clymene. Photo credit: NOAA.

Hybrid Dolphin: Neat Curiosity or Bad Omen?
The clymene dolphin is the first known naturally occurring marine mammal hybrid. A molecular analysis determined that clymene dolphins are a cross between spinner and striped dolphins, which are closely related but don’t look alike. In most cases, each species prefers to mate with its own kind, but something compelled the spinner and striped dolphins to mate. The resulting hybrid can grow to about seven feet. The clymene dolphin’s mitochondrial genome more closely resembles that of the striped dolphin, but its nuclear genome more closely resembles that of the spinner dolphin.

Researchers Reveal Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence
A team of researchers has released the first report of widespread bioflorescence in fishes. Biofluorescence is the phenomenon by which organisms absorb light, transform and return it as a different color. Researchers found that more than 180 species glow in a wide range of colors and patterns. Biofluorescence in jellyfish and coral has long been known, but fish biofluorescence has only been reported a handful of times. The new report opens up a wide range of new research opportunities, including biomedical research. Check out this awesome video to learn more and see some of the wild colors and patterns: The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence.

Fish biofluorescence.

Fish biofluorescence. Photo credit: GrrlScientist via photopin cc.

Unique Fossil Pigments Found
For the first time, scientists have determined the color scheme of extinct marine animals. Original pigment in fossilized skin from three multi-million-year-old marine reptiles reveals that the animals were at least partially dark-colored. The color may have contributed to more efficient thermoregulation, in addition to providing UV protection and means for camouflage. The soft tissue remains were obtained from a 55 million-year-old leatherback turtle, an 85 million-year-old mosasaur and a 196–190 million-year-old ichthyosaur. From the color alone, researchers are able to speculate about the reptiles’ behavior. For example, ichthyosaurs, which are believed to be deep divers, have a similar color scheme to sperm whales, suggesting that they have similar lifestyles and also spent lots of time at or near the surface between dives.

Rendering of the ancient Mosasaur.

Rendering of the ancient Mosasaur. Photo credit: Craig T Dylke via photopin cc.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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