Saturday, November 19, 2011

Creature Feature: Wholphin.

Sometimes, we just have to wonder what science has done. We make freaks almost solely because we can. Even if we say we are making mice glow green to cure Parkinson's, c'mon. Scientists just want to make stuff glow in the dark, just like paleontologists get a kick out of posing dinosaur skeletons in battle postures.

Well, this freak is not quite the result of science. All we had to do for this one was put two animals in the same tank; the freakish offspring was an accident. The following is the result of two different species of toothed whales loving each other very, very much:

This Uncanny Valley-ish creature is called a "wholphin" (or "wolphin").  It is the hybrid of a bottlenose dolphin (Turisops truncatus) and a lesser known cetacean called a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Although there have been some reports of wild wholphins, they have only been confirmed to occur in captivity.

At first glance, you might not see what is wrong with the dolphin in that video. Unlike ligers, where the public is very well aware of both hybrid species, not many people know about false killer whales. All you, the readers, really need to know is that they eat other marine mammals like orca whales and are a lot bigger than regular dolphins. To give you an idea of how different the two species are, here they are, side by side, in Enoshima, Japan:

Perhaps, in Japan, another wholphin will be born. I fear for its life.

A lot of the rules that can be applied to ligers can be applied to wholphins as well. Wholphins, like ligers, are bigger than their parents. They grow faster and have been described (by eyewitnesses) as "giant dolphins." They have teeth smack dab between those of dolphins and false killer whales: dolphins have 88, FKW's have 44, and wholphins have 66. Like many hybrids, they have fertility issues; the first wholphin did not have a stable calf until 2004, when she yielded a baby with a bottlenose sire. The young wholphin reached the size of a year-old bottlenose within a few months.

From Pinhole's flickr. :)

Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on where you stand on hybrids - there are currently only two wholphins in existence. They are both at Sea Life Park, Hawaii, which is one of the last places you would expect an exotic animal hybridization to take place. Keikaimalu, the original female, still performs at Sea Life Park. Hey, at least she's in Hawaii.

The question now is this: When will scientists really get cracking and make a wolf-dolphin hybrid? Or a gryphon? Hey, if we're going to make abominations, we may as well make awesome ones. Whatever you believe about hybrids, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

1 comment:

  1. What about a 'fips' tablet for on the run people who really want fish and chips with out waiting time?