In December of 2015, a whale shark was discovered off the coast of British Columbia.
Scientists were stunned by the unusual sight: a newborn whale shark, with its head just barely protruding from the surface of the ocean.
But the shark was not a newborn.
The scientists were surprised to discover that the shark had undergone a genetic change, becoming an adult shark.
“There’s no reason why the whale shark couldn’t be a shark,” says study co-author, Dr. Mark C. Stoll, an associate professor of biology at the University of British Colombia.
“But it wasn’t a shark.
It wasn’t really a whale, it was just a whale.
And we thought, well, what happens if you’re feeding this whale shark something that kills the whale?”
The researchers tried to replicate the experiment, but to no avail.
In a study published in the journal Science Advances, the team found that their experiment didn’t make any difference at all.
“What we didn’t learn was that the whale was actually the mother,” says Dr. Stoltz.
That whale shark had been born in captivity and that it had evolved from a normal whale.
This is the first time scientists have ever successfully created a new species of whale shark that can reproduce without harming the mother.
The team’s previous attempts to create a whale sharks-like creature were unsuccessful.
In 2006, researchers in the Netherlands were unable to reproduce a newborn dolphin.
Scientists believe that because the dolphin was too small for the scientists to use, the scientists turned to artificial insemination to make the baby whale shark.
The whale shark is a unique hybrid between a dolphin and a whale species.
While the whales’ DNA is not very different, the genes of the mother and the baby whales’ genomes are very similar.
The two whales’ genetic material is fused together in a complex fashion, called transposon insertion, in which the mother whale genome is replaced with the baby’s genome.
“It’s basically a way of inserting genes into another species and replacing the genetic information with the information from the mother, and then replacing the DNA information with something from the baby,” says Stoll.
“So it’s kind of like the way a gene is inserted into a bacterium, or a protein is inserted in a cell.”
The scientists also found that the mother whales’ genes were identical to those of the baby, and that they were able to survive long enough to have babies of their own.
“We had the opportunity to study the genomes of the mothers and the babies, and the genes that are in the baby were exactly the same to the mother as the baby is to the whale,” Stoll says.
“The whale sharks and the whales are the only ones that are genetically related to each other.
It’s kind a perfect relationship.”
Stoll and his colleagues found that these new whales are not a new breed of whale.
The new whale sharks are still very much a part of the world’s ocean.
They are common in coastal waters and off the coasts of many countries.
They also inhabit remote, deep-water areas where the temperature is low and the food sources are plentiful.
The researchers say that whale sharks will continue to grow, and even increase in numbers, due to the introduction of new species and habitat.