Not Just One Player – A Whole Orcastra

One of two apparent species of orca living in Antarctic seas.

Recently analyzed mitochondrial DNA from the tissue of 139 orcas (killer whales) from around the globe indicates that, despite similar appearance, there are at least three distinct species of orca, and perhaps more. See Several Different Species of Killer Whales Likely in Science Daily.

Update: New Scientist features a brief article on this topic, What Type of Killer Whale Was Willy?

For the abstract of the original article in Genome Research, see this item:

“We used high-throughput sequencing to survey whole mitochondrial genome variation of 139 samples from the North Pacific, North Atlantic and southern oceans. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that each of the known ecotypes represents a strongly supported clade with divergence times ranging from approximately 150,000 to 700,000 years ago. We recommend that three named ecotypes be elevated to full species, and that the remaining types be recognized as subspecies pending additional data.”

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Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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