A HARP SEAL × HOODED SEAL HYBRID

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Abstract

In this study we report the first documentation of mating between harp (Phoca groenlandica) and hooded seals (Cystophora cristata). The production of this hybrid was quite unusual, being the result of a cross between parents of different genera which are morphologically dissimilar and have quite different mating behavior and dramatically different body sizes. The molecular techniques (mtDNA and macrosatellite nuclear DNA banding patterns) used in this study will undoubtedly be applied widely to many different taxa in the near future, allowing us to re-examine many suspected cases of hybridization among marine mammals and, in a larger context, the meaning of the species concept.

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