New Zealand Beaching Proves Rarest of Whales Exists

New Zealand Beaching Proves Rarest of Whales Exists

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The spade-toothed beaked whale is so rare that nobody has seen one alive, but scientists have proof the species still exists. Two skeletons were identified as belonging to the species after a 17-foot whale and her calf beached themselves in New Zealand in 2010. Scientists hope the discovery will provide insights into the species and into ocean ecosystems.

It was almost a missed opportunity, however, since conservation workers misidentified the carcasses as a much more common type of whale and buried them. In a paper recently published in the journal Current Biology, researchers from New Zealand and the United States say of their discovery: “For the first time we have a description of the world’s rarest and perhaps most enigmatic marine mammal.”

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