Scientists discover unusual whale-dolphin hybrid swimming off the coast of Kauai

Wolphin is a mix of a rough-toothed dolphin and a melon-headed whale

What the researchers discovered was a hybrid of a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin.

The discovery, made past year, was confirmed this week in a report released by researchers with the Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit which in August 2017 conducted a two-week project to photograph, tag and record audio of marine mammals.

But while the discovery is definitely cool, many news reports have jumped the gun a little bit by referring to the creature as a totally "new species".

The cross-species hybridization may seem freaky, but is made possible by the fact that melon-headed whales aren't actually whales.

The definition of what constitutes a "species" is complicated, and even scientists don't all agree entirely.

He said: "That isn't the case, although there are example where hybridisation has resulted in a new species".

The sighting is also only the third confirmed instance of a wild-born hybrid between species in the Delphinidae family.

Robin W Baird/Cascadia Research Melon-headed whales.

What do you think about the dolphin and whale hybrid?

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Baird told CBS News that scientists were able to get a biopsy sample from the hybrid to confirm its unusual parentage. Melon-headed whales usually don't swim in these waters, so when scientists spotted the whale, they put satellite tags on the animal.

There may be similar hybrids out there, he told HuffPost.

He said: "Calling it something like a wholphin doesn't make any sense".

Which is a technical way of saying this odd fellow didn't have look exactly like the other whales, but it also didn't look exactly like the other dolphins. But really, it's hard to beat a melon-headed rough-toothed wholphin. Researchers believe a rough-toothed dolphin was the father of the hybrid.

"One of the pair of melon-headed whales seen on two occasions had pigmentation and morphological characteristics suggesting it may be a hybrid between a melon-headed whale and a rough-toothed dolphin", the researchers wrote in their new report.

Baird said that discovering hybrids can have "important implications" for the species involved.

Hybrids generally occur when there is a decline in the population in one of the parental species. But researchers aren't sure yet if that's the cause in this situation.

Soon after, they were able to get DNA, which led them to the definitive conclusion that it was indeed a hybrid of the two species.

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