A pair of whales that died after washing ashore in NZ turn out to be the world’s rarest whale, the spade-toothed whale. Although it looks similar to the Gray’s beaked whale, the spade-toothed can be identified in part by a black beak and dark-colored eye patch. But no one would have ever known this if not for DNA tests done on the carcass after it was discovered. “This study highlights the importance of DNA typing and reference collections for the identification of rare species,” the researchers write, noting that it is often very difficult to tell different beaked whale species apart given how little scientists know about them.
Smithsonian has the full article here