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Nature

Killer Whales Are Evolving Into Two Different Species

Scientists have found that Killer Whales in the North Atlantic Ocean differ in both diet and genetic makeup. In fact, they’re in the process of splitting into two different species all together.

Researchers examined the teeth of 62 whale skeletons, some that were hundreds of years old. They found that “type 1” whales had longer teeth with significant wear in comparison to “type 2.” Type 2 whales fed on a combination of seals and fish. But type 1 whales stuck to dolphins and smaller whales, like that of Antarctic orcas.

“They seem to have occupied completely different ecological niches and have started to diverge morphologically,” said Dr. Andy Foote, of the University of Aberdeen in the UK. “It’s similar to how Darwin’s finches have adapted to different ecological roles in the Galapagos, but on a larger scale.”

As expected, their diets also affected their shape and size. The type 1 whale were a full six feet longer. It also played a part in their color, pattern and how many teeth they actually had.

These findings are important for conservationists as it shows there are two distinct groups of whales which have different diets and may not breed together.

“They seem to have occupied completely different ecological niches and have started to diverge morphologically. This divergence may eventually lead to the two types becoming different species,” said Foote.

It is common for killer whales to have evolved from ecological differentiations but this is the first finding of two different species occupying the same region. If the two continue on the same trajectory, conservation efforts will need to be focused on each group separately, the researchers claim.

Source: Discovery News

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33 comments
  1. Guest

    You thought wrong, obviously. 

    You fail to see key words, such as “in the process of”.
    Evolution isn’t a process in which you’re white one day, and you’re black the next. If you don’t understand what evolution is, you should honestly keep your opinions and your comments to yourself.

  2. Nas

    According to Christianity GOD created Adam and Eve. I’m not sure what Ethnicity they were, but its not possible that the 2 of them together had more than 2 skin tones. How do you explain all the different colors of the human race. You have skin tones from very light to very dark. I’m not a scientist… but I’m pretty sure its a form of evolution because dark skin serves a purpose. It helps protect people in hot climates from the sun. If you put a Scandinavian in Africa or south America without sunscreen they will burn. how is that not evolution. Or is GOD a racist and anyone who doesn’t look like Adam and Eve a creation of a different being?

  3. Ginbara

    These killer whales are not “evolving” they simpley took on different diets that caused them to change slightly. The killer whales with shorter teeth must have been chewing on something harder, causing them to chip and whither away. They are the same species and will always stay that way. You just watch, this won’t last forever, as soon as the “different” whales start breeding together it will be back to normal.

    I thought the theory of evolution said it takes billions if years for creatures to evolve. If so then why is the case different here? Hmm, pretty interesting.

    1. Rigo

      First of all, it’s not Billions of years.
      Second, let me ask you this, How long does it take to get somewhere? If you aren’t there in ten minutes, does it mean you aren’t going to get there. Evolution is a process that will start with very few changes and may stop and change direction. That doesn’t mean it’s not evolution. And you have a point, things can go back, because evolution is based on the changing environment, not some goal. So if you change the environment, the course of evolution will change, revert or even stop.

    2. Guest

      You thought wrong, obviously. 

      You fail to see key words, such as “in the process of”.
      Evolution isn’t a process in which you’re white one day, and you’re black the next. If you don’t understand what evolution is, you should honestly keep your opinions and your comments to yourself.

  4. chipsmydog

    The world loves to be deceived.

    If you deny spontaneous creation by the Creator God what is left for you to explain the existence of the Universe?

    If anything exists right now, then something has got to exist that has “Being” in and of itself and always has been.

    Or, if “nothing” ever was the reality, what could there possibly be right now?

    1. Rigo

      There is nothing wrong with believing that the Universe was created by God. Saying God did it, to every question is just laziness and disservice to the Creator who put the universe here for us to discover it mysteries and it endless beauty.

  5. @JohnG

    This is not true. I’m not a creationist myself but i do believe you are misconstruing the argument. All I believe they assert is that there is some sort of intelligent design behind complex process of life.. So.. honestly, who cares?

  6. JohnG

    @Liz and A. Clizzle
    Knowledge of evolution can coexist with religion in general, but not with creationism, which, contrary to all known observations of the natural world, maintains that all life was created in its modern form only a few thousand years ago. Evidence of speciation is a blow to that particular belief.

  7. Lee

    Liz “This whale thing is just another way to try and say God doesn’t exist.” – He doesn’t but thats not the point. This whole whale thing shows 2 seperate groups from 1 species having different habits which over time is giving them different characteristics. That is called evolution. If one of these groups happens to be better at survivng than the other group and thrive whilst the group fail and die out, that would be called Natural Selection or survival of the fitest. And by your reckoning if god created humans to have different skin colours so we’d be taken care of how do you explain the many many many wars that have been started because of different races? How many millions on native americans did the christians slaughter because they had different skin colours? How many black people were enslaved? How many genocides have taken place? How many people of all races and beliefs still die today due to racist violence/actions? But i’m sure thats all gods plan right 😉

  8. Liz

    Evolution and creationism can co-exsist. Evolution is God’s way of making sure that his creatures are taken care of. God created us to be able to evolve into different skin colors based on the climate that we live in. That doesn’t make us different species. We don’t always mate with members of our own species with different skin colors. That doesn’t mean that it is wrong to mix interacially. Good grief people, in an effort to make everyone the same I think we are more divided than ever. This whale thing is just another way to try and say God doesn’t exist.

  9. James

    No creationists were harmed by, or ever aware of, this posting.

    On that note – humanity is rapidly diverging into idiots and worse idiots. The worse idiots are out-breeding ten to one.

  10. Parker

    I wonder if they will split the whales into separate species like they did with some birds on the east and west coasts of the US. I wonder how there ntch varied. Was one a carnivore and one an omnivore? One eats otters and one fish maybe.

    1. Rigo

      Evolution doesn’t mean they will sprout wings. Evolution doesn’t even mean a new species. Just as when the human race looses their little toes, I’d like think to think we will still be human.

  11. A. Clizzle

    I am an agnostic, and I will be the first to say that this is no major blow to creationism. In fact, it has nothing to do with creationism. Why? Because it is science. The purpose of science is not to disprove religion, it is to learn the nature of our universe through tested observation. Please stop polarizing science and religion, as if science is a belief system. How about we let everyone enjoy the marvels of science, whether or not they choose to believe in a deity.

    1. Rigo

      As a reminder, one of the founders of the Big Bang Theory was a Catholic priest, with the backing of the Catholic Church, which also accepts the Theory of Evolution as one of the wonders created by God.

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