This 6-month old pygmy right whale stranded itself on the beach in New Zealand. It is being dissected by a team of scientists as I write this! The whale has a similar head to true right whales, but scientists do not believe that they are closely related. In fact, they are not quite sure where these rare whales fit into the overall evolutionary tree. Hopefully this dissection will help them put some of the pieces in the puzzle.
I'm going to have to ask some of my coworkers about this one.
This species is only found in the southern hemisphere, but still, a dissection of this caliber is going to draw northern right whale researchers' attention as well.
Normally all you need is a tissue sample for genetic testing to determine where it sits on the evolutionary tree. Maybe the focus should be on why this little whale got beached?
Thanks for this fascinating item! I'm currently reading "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin which is riveting, so I'll be very interested to see just what the necropsy turns up.
that's an amazingly tiny baleen whale