Balaenoptera omurai

Taxobox
name = "Balaenoptera omurai"
status = DD
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref = [cite web|title=Cetacean update of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species|url=http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/cetacean_table_for_website.pdf|accessdate=2008-10-11]
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
subclassis = Eutheria
ordo = Cetacea
subordo = Mysticeti
familia = Balaenoptiidae
genus = "Balaenoptera"
species = "B. omurai"
binomial = "Balaenoptera omurai"
binomial_authority = Wada "et al.", 2003

"Balaenoptera omurai" is a species of whale about which almost nothing is known. It lacks a common name. The announcement of the discovery of this whale was made in the November 20, 2003, edition of "Nature" (426, 278-281) by three Japanese scientists Shiro Wada, Masayuki Oishi and Tadasu K. Yamada.

Whether the claim of a new species will be accepted by the wider cetological community remains to be seen. Indeed other scientists were cautious in their immediate response to the announcement of the discovery. Quoted in the New York Times, Dr. Howard C. Rosenbaum, a conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the Japanese researchers had done "an admirable job to at least open the question as whether this is a distinct species," but added that more DNA analysis needed to be done. If the claim does gain wide acceptance the common name for the whale is likely to be Omura's Whale, in honour of Japanese cetologist Hideo Omura.

The three scientists determined the existence of the species by analysing the morphology and mitochondrial DNA of nine individuals - eight caught by a Japanese research vessel in the late 1970s in the Indo-Pacific and a further specimen collected in 1998 from a small island in the Sea of Japan(East Sea).

In the third edition of "Mammal Species of the World", the "species" is relegated to being a synonym of Bryde's Whale. However the authors note that this may only be temporary.

Description

In their paper, the scientists describe the species as resembling the Fin Whale in external appearance, albeit smaller.

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3284843.stm Whale species is new to science]
* [http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v426/n6964/abs/nature02103_fs.html Abstract of the announcement in "Nature"]
* [http://www.wdcs.org:"Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society"]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/20/science/20WHAL.html New York Times article containing comments of some doubting scientists]

References

*Wada, S., Oishi, M., and Yamada, T.K. 2003. A newly discovered species of living baleen whales. "Nature" 426: 278–281.
*Sasaki, T., Nikaido, M., Wada, S., Yamada, T.K., Cao, Y., Hasegawa, M., and Okada, N. 2006. "Balaenoptera omurai" is a newly discovered baleen whale that represents an ancient evolutionary lineage. "Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution" 41(1): 40–52.


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