First – the wolphin, or wholphin. Truth be told, when I saw this image on MSNBC, I thought “photoshop job” – not only is it kind of a tacky looking photograph, but the image itself look weird – possibly from being overcompressed. Still, it does seem to be real. These hybrids are known in the wild, but the only two in captivity are in “Sea Life Park”. Having observed them so much in the wild, the idea of ceteceans in captivity rankles – but that’s just my opinion.
The mother wholpin, according to MSNBC, is called Kekaimalu, whose name means “from the peaceful ocean,” was born 19 years ago after a surprise coupling between a 14-foot, 2,000-pound male false killer whale and a 6- foot, 400-pound female dolphin. I think it’s a fair assumption that it was the dolphin who got the biggest surprise.
A bottlenose dolphin caught last month off western Japan has an extra set of fins, providing further evidence that ocean-dwelling mammals once had four legs and lived on land, researchers said. The fins are about the size of adult human hands. The dolphin is nearly 9ft long and about five years old. Researchers think this is the first found with well-developed, symmetrical extra fins. Fossils indicate that dolphins and whales were four-footed animals about 50m years ago but evolved into an aquatic lifestyle and lost their hind limbs. A freak mutation may have caused the trait to reassert itself.
The Guardian: Four-finned dolphin hands science some clues »
See also, International Herald Tribune: Four-finned Japanese dolphin an evolutionary throwback, researchers say »
(thanks to Damien for spotting this)