MAY 28, 2016 12:04 PM PDT

Rare Beaked Whale Wash Up in Australia an Evolutionary Throwback?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It’s not every day that you see a beaked whale. These creatures like to swim around in the deeper realms of the ocean and aren’t commonly spotted in the wild by boaters or other people hanging out in the oceans.
 
In one case, however, a beaked whale was found beached at Waitpinga Beach in Southern Australia, and marine life researchers had the opportunity to study it up close in a rare opportunity.

A beached beaked whale in Australia earlier this year has led to an important discovery.

Already having been dead, the beached animal’s carcass provided a decent platform for research. Researchers stripped the skull of its flesh, to the bone, to examine the bone structure and jaws of the animal. After all, one of the more distinct parts of a beaked whale is the odd-shaped mouth, so it was definitely a point of interest.
 
The specimen was identified as a female, but there was something odd about the specimen that didn’t make any sense. Inside of the animal’s mouth where a set of teeth that would normally only be seen in a male specimen of the creature.
 
There were four teeth in total – two of them were smaller teeth, and just underneath were the two larger ones.
 
Catherine Kemper of the South Australian Museum notes that it was “something (she) had never seen before.”
 
“My mind was thinking, ‘Do we have something new here?’”
 
The discovery now has researchers believing there was some sort of evolutionary throwback that may have sparked the oddity, rather than a birth defect.
 
We currently know very little about the species because of the fact that they hang out in the deeper parts of the oceans and are not commonly observed, but these small Easter eggs could help scientists to better understand the species and their biological traits.
 
Source: ABC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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