Balaenoptera omurai

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Balaenopter omurai
Conservation status: Unknown
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Subclass:Eutheria
Order:Cetacea
Suborder:Mysticeti
Family:Balaenoptiidae
Genus:Balaenoptera
Species:B. omurai
Binomial name
Balaenoptera omurai

The Balaenoptera omurai is a species of whale about which almost nothing is known. The announcement of the discovery of this whale was made in the November 20, 2003 edition of Nature (426, 278-281) by three Japanese scientists Shiro Wada, Masayuki Oishi and Tadasu K. Yamada.

Whether the claim of a new species will be accepted by the wider cetological community remains to be seen. Indeed other scientists were cautious in their immediate response to the announcement of the discovery. Quoted in the New York Times, Dr. Howard C. Rosenbaum, a conservation biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the Japanese researchers had done "an admirable job to at least open the question as whether this is a distinct species," but added that more DNA analysis needed to be done. If the claim does gain wide acceptance the common name for the whale is likely to be Omura's Whale, in honour of Japanese cetologist Hideo Omura.

The three scientists determined the existence of the species by analysing the morphology and mitochondrial DNA of nine individuals - eight caught by a Japanese research vessel in the late 1970s in the Indo-Pacific and a further specimen collected in 1998 from a small island in the Sea of Japan.

In their paper, the scientists describe the species as resembling the Fin Whale in external appearance, albeit smaller.

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