An unexpected discovery. New subspecies of dolphin found in the Pacific Ocean, which is still developing
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Studies show that one of the most studied marine mammal species in the world is not so simple.related video
The bottlenose dolphin is considered one of the most studied marine mammals in the world. However, in the past few decades, scientists have discovered something strange – genetic studies suggest that this is not all one species, but various lines, which, by the way, are still in the developmental stage, writes Science Alert.
A group of researchers from the University of Miami concluded that the animals, which were historically considered one species of dolphins in the Pacific Ocean – Tursiops truncatus, need to be divided into several separate subspecies. The reason was observations of mammals – as a result, researchers noticed that bottlenose dolphins (ETP) live in the coastal waters of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean (between Baja California and the Galapagos Islands) with noticeably smaller skulls and bodies compared to dolphins that live off the coast of southern California or Japan.
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The researchers believe that this evidence is sufficient to ultimately consider the ETP dolphin as a separate subspecies. The authors of the study believe that these bottlenose dolphins are still in the stage of evolutionary development, the driving force of which is environmental conditions.
It is curious that bottlenose dolphins live in different parts of the world. However, the way groups of these mammals adapt to certain habitats close to the coast seems to have led to incredible physiological and biological diversity. For example, scientists believe that dolphins that live farther from the coastline evolved later than their relatives that live closer to the coast.
As a result, scientists have concluded that there are many subspecies of bottlenose dolphins in the world, which are still unidentified. The only two officially recognized species to date are the Black Sea bottlenose dolphins (T. ponticus) and the Lachilla bottlenose dolphin (T. Gephyreus).
Researchers believe that the eastern Pacific Ocean, due to its diverse water landscape, has contributed to the development of different lineages of development of bottlenose dolphins – as a result, mammals have moved away from each other physiologically and genetically.
ETP bottlenose dolphins live further in deeper waters off the coast of South America. Scientists analyzed the skulls collected in this area and came to the conclusion that ETP dolphins are actually unique. First, it is one of the smallest species of bottlenose dolphins ever identified. Scientists believe that their small size is due to the diet of mammals and the temperature of the water in which they live.
ETP bottlenose dolphins are known to tend to feed on squid and small fish, despite living far from the coast in deeper waters. Researchers believe that the small body size allows these dolphins to better remove heat.
Researchers continue to study bottlenose dolphins and hope that they will be able to find more subspecies further south.