New Zealand beaching proves rarest of whale species exists

Global News

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – 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 five-metre 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 published Tuesday 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.”

Previously only three skull fragments of the species had been found: in New Zealand in 1872 and in the 1950s and the last one…

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