First-Ever Specimens Found of Elusive Whale Species

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Nov. 6 2012 3:45 PM

First-Ever Specimens Found of Elusive Whale Species

The spade-toothed beaked whale is so rare that it was thought to be extinct, but scientists have confirmed that two dead specimens found on the New Zealand coast are a mother and calf that beached in 2010.

The discovery of the first-ever specimens was nearly thwarted because local workers buried the whales’ bodies after misidentifying them as a more common species. Researchers later determined via DNA samples that they were in fact spade-toothed whales.

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Before the historic find, little was known about the elusive whales, the existence of which was only confirmed previously by bone fragments. The species has yet to be observed alive.