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Found on beach in Atlantic Canada in November.
"Sack" is approx. 2" (approx. 5cm) in length.
Mysterious New Whale Species Discovered in Alaska
Scientists say a dead whale on a desolate beach and a skeleton hanging in a high school gym are a new species. Yet experts have never seen one alive.
Like many good mysteries, this one started with a corpse, but the body in question was 24 feet (7.3 meters) long.
The remains floated ashore in June of 2014, in the Pribilof Islands community of St. George, a tiny oasis of rock and grass in the middle of Alaska's Bering Sea. A young biology teacher spotted the carcass half-buried in sand on a desolate windswept beach. He alerted a former fur seal researcher who presumed, at first, that she knew what they'd found: a Baird's beaked whale, a large, gray, deep-diving creature that occasionally washes in dead with the tide.
But a closer examination later showed that the flesh was too dark, the dorsal fin too big and floppy. The animal was too short to be an adult, but its teeth were worn and yellowed with age.
It turns out, according to new research published Tuesday, that this was not a Baird's beaked whale at all, but an entirely new species—a smaller, odd-shaped black cetacean that Japanese fishermen have long called karasu, or raven.
"We don't know how many there are, where they're typically found, anything," says Phillip Morin, a molecular geneticist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Southwest Fisheries Science Center. "But we're going to start looking."
It’s rare to uncover a new species of whale. Advances in DNA research have helped scientists identify five new cetaceans in the past 15 years but two were dolphins and most were simple category splits between fairly similar species. This animal, in the genus Berardius, looks far different than its nearest relative and inhabits an area of the North Pacific where marine mammal research has been conducted for decades.
It's just so exciting to think that in 2016 we're still discovering things in our world—even mammals that are more than 20 feet long.
"It's a really big deal," says study co-author Paul Wade of NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory. "If you think about it, on land, discovery of new species of large mammals is exceptionally rare. It just doesn't happen very often. It's quite remarkable."
Morin and his team examined the St. George carcass, took bone powder from old museum specimens, and reviewed DNA tests of whales from the Sea of Okhotsk. They studied skulls and beaks and analyzed records from whaling fleets in Japan. They even tracked down a skeleton hanging from the ceiling in a high school gymnasium in the Aleutian Islands.
The scientists conclude in their study published in Marine Mammal Science that this type of whale, which has not yet been named, is nearly as far removed genetically from the Northern Hemisphere's Baird's beaked whales as it is from its closest known relative, Arnoux's beaked whales, which swim in the Antarctic Ocean. The differences, in fact, are so dramatic that the animal has to be something else, they say.
"It's just so exciting to think that in 2016 we're still discovering things in our world—even mammals that are more than 20 feet long," Morin says.
He is not alone in his enthusiasm. Robert Pitman serves on a taxonomy committee for the Society for Marine Mammalogy, which publishes an annual list of all recognized marine mammal species. He is not among the 16 co-authors on Morin's paper. But at a time when the diversity of marine mammals is shrinking—the Yangtze River dolphin is now functionally extinct and Mexico’s vaquita porpoise is dangerously close—Pitman calls the discovery "heartening."
"It boggles my mind to think that a large, very different-looking whale has gone unnoticed by the scientific community for so long," Pitman says. "It sends a clear message about how little we know about what is in the ocean around us."
The discovery also raises new questions about how well humans are understanding the threats posed by marine activities, from energy exploration to sonar use, given that so few people even knew such a creature existed.
Of the 88 recognized living cetacean species, including orcas and humpbacks, bottlenose dolphins and Dall's porpoises, 22 are beaked whales. The largest of those, Baird's beaked whales, also called giant bottlenose whales, can reach 35 to 40 feet (10.7 to 12 meters) and weigh more than 24,000 pounds (10,900 kilograms). They travel in large groups, may dive 3,000 feet (914 meters), and can be underwater for an hour. While beaked whales are still hunted in Japan, little about them is known. In part that’s because they spend so much time feeding and exploring vast, deep canyons far from shore.
When Christian Hagenlocher on St. George, a 35-square-mile (91-square-kilometer) island inhabited by 100 people, frequented by hundreds of thousands of seals, and visited by 2.5 million birds, pointed out the dead whale in Zapadni Bay to former seal researcher Karin Holser, she thought it was a Baird's beaked whale. But later, as tides and currents revealed more of the animal, Holser realized she didn't recognize it at all. She consulted a colleague's cetacean identification book and sent pictures to other experts in Alaska.
"This dorsal fin was larger, further aft, and had more curvature than that of a Baird's beaked whale," says independent ecologist Michelle Ridgway, who arrived on the island days later. "The jaw structure and the shape of the melon were not quite right, either.” And this whale, while clearly an adult, was just two-thirds the size of full-grown Baird’s beaked whales.
Holser and other island residents measured the whale. Ridgway collected tissue, arranging to ship the slightly fetid samples through intermediaries to Morin's lab in Southern California.
Just nine months earlier, he'd spied new research by Japanese scientists attempting to describe differences between Baird's beaked whales and a rare black form that whalers had whispered about since the 1940s. Groups of these smaller whales were sometime spotted in Japan’s Nemuro Strait, but only between April and June. There was no record of scientists ever seeing one alive.
"They're almost folklore," Morin says.
The Japanese scientists had speculated in fall of 2013 that this may be an unknown species of beaked whale. But they were forced to draw conclusions from DNA taken from just three of the creatures that had stranded off Hokkaido. They concluded more evidence was needed.
Even before receiving the samples from St. George, Morin had been trying to hunt down more specimens.
He went through NOAA's tissue collection, pulling all 50 or so that had previously been identified as a Baird's beaked whale. Using DNA testing he found that two were actually a closer genetic match to the small black whales tested by Japanese scientists in 2013. One of those was from a whale that washed ashore in 2004 and now hangs in a school gym in Dutch Harbor. Scientists there had long assumed it was a younger Baird's beaked whale.
Morin also took the suggestion of one of the Japanese scientists, who had identified a skeleton from 1948 with an unusual shaped head at the Smithsonian Institution. And he tracked down another skeleton from the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History with body measurements that suggested they were the small black form. Morin took bone powder from both, and tested their DNA. They, too, were a match for karasu.
Along with the whale from St. George, Morin now had found five new specimens that were similar to the three found in Japan.
To describe a new species, however, "you build up lines of evidence, but that's very hard with an animal we've never seen alive," Morin says. But body measurements between Baird's beaked whales and the smaller black creature proved vastly different, as did their DNA.
Baird's beaked whales range throughout the North Pacific from Russia and Japan to Mexico. Genetic variation among Baird’s beaked whales was tiny. But for the five new black specimens Morin tested, all initially from the Bering Sea or the Aleutians, the sequences differed from the Baird's beaked whales significantly.
"The genetic variation within the forms was little, while the divergence between them was much larger," Morin says. "That's our strongest argument."
The whale still needs to be formally described and named, and Morin's findings would have to be accepted by outside experts who track cetacean taxonomy. But Pitman and others say the case is strong that it’s a new species.
"We're doing increasing damage to our environment, and we can't even begin to conserve the biodiversity we know is out there," Morin says. "Yet there's so much more about our world we don't even understand."
Unidentified sea creature washes up on beach in Wales
A STRANGE “crocodile-like” sea creature has been found washed up on a Welsh coast, leaving beachgoers baffled.
Loch Ness monster-type beast found on beach.
Loch Ness monster-type beast found on beach
Some people think the strange creature is a crocodile. Picture: Wales News Service/Australscope Source:Supplied
A MYSTERIOUS “crocodile-like” creature found washed up on a Welsh beach has left experts baffled.
According to The Sun, the 1.52 metre long carcass found on Rhossili Beach, Swansea, has a long head, giant jawline and slender tail.
Beth Jannetta, 41, who discovered the monster while walking her dogs, sent a photo of the creature to experts, hoping they would identify it.
But boffins are not sure if it is a type of whale, dolphin or porpoise.
Beth said: “It looked like a well-rotted cetacean to me. Other people think it is something different, like a crocodile.
“It would be very interesting to find out what species it is.”
Bioscience expert Dr Dan Forman said: “When you look at it the first time you may think it is a crocodile, but it is certainly not.”
A mysterious sea creature has washed up on Rhossili Beach in Wales. Picture: Wales News Service/Australscope Source:Supplied
“There is a big bulge on the base of the skull which is characteristic of a cetacean.”
He added: “We get a reasonable amount of whales and dolphins, a lot which are dead and decomposed in places like Pendine and Rhossili.
𠇏rom the data around carcasses washed up, there seems to be a cluster this time of year around June and July.”
Mark Hipkin, National Trust area ranger, who was called to collect the body, said he thought it was a porpoise.
He said: “We have porpoises washing up quite regularly, as well as dolphins and seals and sometimes sheep.”
Earlier this year, beachgoers in Georgia, USA came across a Loch Ness monster-like beast washed up on the shore.
The mystery creature was reportedly found on Wolf Island in the state of Georgia by a father and son, who were out on a boat trip.
The creature was reportedly about 1-2m in length and had a long neck and two fins.
Experts were unable to positively identify the animal from the photos and video footage.
Is this mystery sea creature the Loch Ness monster?
SHOCKING pictures of an unidentified sea creature found on a US beach have sparked speculation that it may actually be the mysterious Loch Ness monster.
Loch Ness monster-type beast found on beach.
Loch Ness monster-type beast found on beach
Image of the Loch Ness monster "Nessie", as photographed in Scotland. Picture: Supplied Source:News Limited
SHOCKING pictures of a Loch Ness monster-type beast found on a US beach have sparked talk Nessie could have moved Stateside.
The mystery creature was reportedly found on Wolf Island in the state of Georgia by a father and son, who were out on a boat trip, reports The Sun.
Father Jeff Warren spotted what he said he thought was a dead seal lying in the surf, First Coast News reports.
Nessie, is that you? A mysterious Loch Ness monster-like creature has washed up on Wolf Island in Georgia, USA. Picture: Twitter Source:Twitter
But upon closer inspection, Jeff said it became clear he had no idea what the animal was.
Images show the supposed carcass — which Warren said was being eaten by birds when he arrived — lying in the sand.
It appears to have a long tail and two fins, as well as a long neck and a tiny head — features usually associated with Nessie in popular culture.
WHAT IS THIS? A man from Waycross, Georgia found his own version of the Loch Ness Monster on Friday while at Wolf Island.
The creature was reportedly about 1-2m in length and had a long neck and two fins.
Experts have so far been unable to positively identify the animal from the photos and video footage.
Director Dan Ash of the US Fish and Wildlife Service told Action News Jax that some sea animals have a way of decomposing where they can resemble a prehistoric creature.
He said a 9m basking shark can end up looking like it had a long neck and tiny head.
Alternatively, the 𠇌reature” could also be a simple hoax.
Warren said he was later told about a local legend named 𠇊lty”, or Altahama — Georgia’s own version of the Loch Ness monster.
This famous photo of the Loch Ness monster, near Inverness, Scotland in 1934 was revealed to be a hoax. Picture: Keystone/Getty Images Source:Getty Images
The creature is used in advertisements for Darien, Georgia, to attract people to the area.
There are legends of monsters living in a number of places around the world, including Morag, in Loch Morar, Scotland Lagarfljot Worm, in Lagarfljot, Iceland Ogopogo, in Canada’s Okanagan Lake and Lariosauro, in Lake Como, Italy.
MYSTERIOUS 18 tentacled sea creature found fossilised in Southern ChinaLink copied
A impression of the sea floor during the Cambrian Radiation (Image: GETTY)
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The fossil of the ancient animal is approximately 4cm in diameter and features a set of 18 tentacles covered in thin hair. The creature originated during the Cambrian Radiation, an epoch of time that saw a diversity of biological adaptations evolving rapidly. The creature was discovered in a mudstone sample taken from outcrops scattered among rice fields and farmlands.
The scientists speculate that the ancient creature could have used its tentacles, or combs, to catch prey.
The creature has been dubbed Daihua, after the Dai tribe living near the excavation area.
The &ldquohua," part of its name is Mandarin for "flower&rdquo.
University of Bristol molecular paleobiologist Jakob Vinther said: &rdquoWhen I first saw the fossil, I immediately noticed some features I had seen in comb jellies.
The 18 tentacled sea creature was found as a fossil in China (Image: YouTube/ Buzz Fresh News)
&ldquoYou could see these repeated dark stains along each tentacle that resembles how comb jelly combs fossilise.
&ldquoThe fossil also preserves rows of cilia, which can be seen because they are huge.
&ldquoAcross the tree of life, such large ciliary structures are only found in comb jellies.
In a study published by the joint team, the scientists propose a theory explaining how modern jellyfish evolved from having organic skeletons to their modern transparent or iridescent appearance.
Illustration of Anomalocaris feeding on Opabinia, underwater scene (Image: GETTY)
According to Geology In, the combs of the comb jellyfish evolved from tentacles in polyp-like ancestors that were attached to the seafloor.
According to the website Geology In the mouths of the jellyfish ancestors then expanded into balloon-like spheres.
Then their original body reduced in size so that the tentacles that used to surround the mouth now emerge from the back end of modern day jellyfish.
Dr Vinther added: "With such body transformations, I think we have some of the answers to understand why comb jellies are so hard to figure out."
Learn to find fossilized shark's teeth, identify frequently found mollusks and see the beach in a new light!
Seal skulls are superficially dog-like in appearance. There are two species found in the UK – the common seal (also known as the harbour seal, Phoca vitulina) and the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). Despite their names, the grey seal is actually more common in the UK.
- Common seal skulls are about 23cm long grey seals 27cm.
- A grey seal skull has a long, wide, high snout that’s associated with its ‘Roman’ nose.
- The cheek teeth of common seals have three distinct cusps. Grey seals have either a single cusp or small additional cusps.
- Limb bones of both species are short and powerful, with bones of lower limbs flattened.
How to identify British seals
Common and grey seals are difficult to tell apart when in the water.
The common seal (pictured) has a relatively smaller head and concave forehead, and its nostrils form a V-shape.
The grey seal has an elongated ‘Roman nose’ and its nostrils are parallel (they don’t meet at the bottom).
An ancient creature thought to be a teeny dinosaur turns out to be a lizard
Fossils of two specimens preserved in amber — Oculudentavis naga (illustrated) and O. khaungraae — have been identified as lizard species that lived about 99 million years ago.
Stephanie Abramowicz/Peretti Museum Foundation, A. Bolet et al/Current Biology 2021
A tiny creature caught in amber 99 million years ago isn’t the smallest dinosaur ever found. It is actually a lizard — albeit a really bizarre one, researchers report June 14 in Current Biology.
Over the last year, scientists have puzzled over the nature of the strange, hummingbird-sized Oculudentavis khaungraae, a fossil found in amber deposits in northwestern Myanmar. The fossil consists of only a birdlike, rounded skull with a slender tapering snout and a large number of teeth in its mouth, along with a lizardlike eye socket, deep and conical. The birdlike features led one team of scientists to identify the fossil as a miniature dinosaur — the smallest ever found (SN: 3/11/20).
But other scientists weren’t so sure. Another analysis of O. khaungraae’s strange assemblage of features suggested it looked rather more like a weird lizard.
Now, a third team of scientists reports the discovery of a second amber fossil that so closely resembles O. khaungraae as to belong to the same genus. And the new specimen, dubbed O. naga, includes parts of the lower body that clearly reveal the members of genus Oculudentavis to be lizards, say paleontologist Arnau Bolet of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont in Barcelona and colleagues.
The researchers used CT scans to examine both specimens. Oculudentavis’ lizardlike features include scales, teeth attached to its jawbone directly rather than in sockets (as dinosaur teeth were) and a particular skull bone unique to squamates, or scaled reptiles.
Still, the creatures were markedly different from all other known lizards in their unusual combination of features, such as the rounded skulls and long tapering snouts, the researchers say — probably representing a previously unknown group of lizards.
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Male Neon Skimmer visits What’s That Bug?
Subject: Flame Skimmer rests on tomato cages
Geographic location of the bug: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Time: 11:04 PM PDT
Your letter to the bugman: Dear Readers,
As Daniel’s final days as a full time college professor near an end, he is easing into retirement, including spending large portions of the day in the yard just puttering around and observing the wealth of wildlife, including numerous insects. As the years pass, patterns begin to emerge and species begin to make their annual appearances, somewhat on schedule. For years, Daniel has observed Dragonflies in his yard that he thought were Flame Skimmers, but thanks to this BugGuide description, he now believes they have been Neon Skimmers which means updating numerous old postings with the corrections. Though originally identified as Flame Skimmers, Daniel now believes he has been observing both male Neon Skimmers and female Neon Skimmers near the stagnant fountain that serves as a nursery for the naiads, the Dragonfly nymphs that live in the fountain and eat the mosquitoes.
Daniel suspects this beauty recently metamorphosed into a winged adult. It was not at all shy, allowing Daniel to get quite close with his magicphone to capture a series of images, but in this final shot, the Neon Skimmer rotated its head, very much aware that Daniel was staking it with the camera, but it did not fly off for nearly an hour.