Image by J.P. Sylvestre from the linked article.
First the dang tortoise and now an orca? Where in the heck are all these new species coming from?? If you’re not hip to it, orca is another name for killer whales – which sounds mean, but it’s pretty accurate given that they’re highly efficient and voracious predators of everything from fish to seals to sharks. Until genetic analysis and a host of other tests can be conducted, scientists are still considering these orca to be a sub-group of Free Willies (Orcinus orca) and are calling them Type D. Thank you for asking, yes, there are Type A, B, and C orca as well. A, B, and C have nearly identical body morphology (they look the same), whereas Type D have noticeably rounder heads and spiked dorsal fins. Main differentiators between the types are diet and – get this – culture. Yes, orca have culture that they pass down to their young through pod matriarchs. So it’s still an ongoing debate over whether the Types constitute different species and if culture plays any part in that. It’s all pretty flippin’ (or flipperin’) R.A.D., if you ask me, hell I’ll even Certify it.
Oh, and by the way, scientists got the tissue sample for genetic analysis by using a specialized (and harmless) crossbow. Tell me you don’t want to be a marine biologist now.