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Discovery of “Extinct” Pygmy Right Whale May Help Trace the Lineage of Modern Whales

Dec 26, 2012 | DNA science, Genetics

In the wake of a recent attempt to prove the genetic lineage of Bigfoot using DNA, the news of another cryptozoological discovery of course has our attention. The recent discovery of a pygmy right whale originally thought to be extinct may be the key to tracing the lineage of modern whales.

Discovery of “Extinct” Pygmy Whale May Help Trace the Lineage of Modern Whales

Photo credit: Credit: Darryl Wilson, University of Otago


The pygmy right whale, which can grow to only 21 feet (compare that to the average male Sperm Whale length of 67 feet and you see how the term “pygmy” applies), is believed to have diverged from modern whales, such as the humpback and blue whales, more than 17 million years ago. DNA analysis, as well as skull and bone fragments from the pygmy right whale, were used to make this connection.
“The living pygmy right whale is […] like a living fossil,” said Felix Marx, a paleontologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. “It’s the last survivor of quite an ancient lineage that until now no one thought was around.”
These findings are an important step in mapping the lineage of this elusive whale species.
This news is particularly exciting for all of us at DNA Diagnostics Center. Tracing animal lineage has long been an important aspect of our full suite of DNA testing options. While you may not have a pet pygmy right whale in need of breed testing or parentage verification, perhaps your pet dog, bird, cat, or horse can benefit from our veterinary DNA testing services.

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