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Rare Discovery: Scientists Found Mysterious Beaked Whale Species Resembling a Japanese Legend

Aug 02, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
Beaked Whale
A mysterious whale, resembling a character in a Japanese legend, has washed up on the beach of St. George Island but scientists could not identify it.
(Photo : NOAA Photo Library/Wikimedia Commons)

A corpse of a dead whale washed up on the beach of St. George Island in the Bering Sea has proven an old Japanese legend to be true. The said whale, which could not be identified by scientists, fits the description of karasu or "raven," an extremely rare beaked whale species.

According to the National Geographic, the mysterious whale is 7.3 meters long with dark flesh, floppy dorsal fin and yellow teeth.

Researchers first thought that the animal was a Baird's beaked whale. However, upon close examination, they could not identify it. The animal is said to belong under the genus Berardius.

The study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science says that the black whale or karasu is so rare that there are only eight documented samples of the species, which the researchers obtained via a DNA analysis.

"The challenge in documenting the species was simply locating enough specimens to provide convincing evidence," said Phillip Morin, lead author of the study. "Clearly this species is very rare, and reminds us how much we have to learn about the ocean and even some of its largest inhabitants."

Popular Science notes that there is little information known about the new whale species except for the Japanese legend about it. Also, scientists have not been able to observe a karasu alive.

Despite this, Morin is still positive in the new discovery and hopes to find more karasu in the future.

"It's just so exciting to think that in 2016 we're still discovering things in our world—even mammals that are more than 20 feet long," he said. "We don't know how many there are, where they're typically found, anything. But we're going to start looking."

Update: The mysterious species has now been identified by NOAA Fisheries Service.

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