for National Geographic News
November 19, 2003
The number of rorqual whale species swimming in the world’s oceans has jumped to eight from six, according to new research by a team of Japanese scientists published in tomorrow’s issue of the science journal Nature. The research shows that rorquals commonly referred to as Bryde’s whales actually represent three distinct species.
Rorqual whales (Balaenoptera) do not have teeth. Instead they have baleen, a horny substance found in rows of plates along their upper jaws, and they are thus classified as baleen whales. They range from about 26 to 92 feet (8 to 28 meters) in length and weigh upwards of 220,000 pounds (100,000 kilograms).
Rorquals are found throughout the world’s oceans and are distinguished by their long bodies and pleated throats. Their most familiar species are the common minke whale (B. acutorostrata) and the blue whale (B. musculus). Read the full article at National Geographic.com– find out why the new species were only recently discovered, and the difficulties in studying this group of whales.
The AFP report can be found at DiscoveryNews.com