And while many reports have referred to the animal as a whale-dolphin hybrid, it's worth mentioning that technically, melon-headed whales are part of a scientific family of ocean dolphins called Delphinidae. After encountering a large pod of melon-headed whales, the researchers tagged two of them, to see where they might go.
"We had the photos and suspected it was a hybrid from morphological characteristics intermediate between species", Baird told The Garden Island newspaper. Researchers believe a melon-headed whale was the mother of the hybrid. The family covers sea dolphins and some whales, which is why inter-species breeding is possible. And, perhaps surprisingly, you might even be a hybrid yourself, considering scientists have identified slight traces of Neanderthal DNA in humans. That's because two animal species are unlikely to have the same number of chromosomes, and hybrids won't be able to reproduce if their parents are too genetically dissimilar.
It didn't, for example, have the rounded head of melon-headed whales, and yet its beak was shorter than those of rough-toothed dolphins.
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The researchers were in the area to study the marine mammals and other creatures that live in the area around the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
They were able to take a sample for a biopsy, which confirmed their suspicions.
After all, individual hybrid cases are not usually officially recognized as new species since many hybrids are unable to reproduce.
The so-called wolphin has been confirmed by scientists after it was spotted on a research trip near Kauai island.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there are more hybrids between the two species ― they do associate quite regularly", Baird said.
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Killer whales (Orcas) are also Delphinidae or dolphins.
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"To know she has cousins out there in the ocean is an incredible thing to know", said Sea Life park curator Jeff Pawloski in response to the new discovery, which he said was proof of the "genetic diversity of the ocean".
Some hybrid animals, such as the mule - a hybrid of a male donkey and female horse - are mostly sterile and therefore can not propagate easily.
Hybrids generally occur when there's a decline in the population in one of the parental species, so scientists will be looking out for such a decline.
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