Resurrection of Mesoplodon hotaula Deraniyagala 1963: A new species of beaked whale in the tropical Indo-Pacific



We present genetic and morphological evidence supporting the recognition of a previously synonymized species of Mesoplodon beaked whale in the tropical Indo-Pacific, Mesoplodon hotaula. Although the new species is closely-related to the rare ginkgo-toothed beaked whale M. ginkgodens, we show that these two lineages can be differentiated by maternally (mitochondrial DNA), biparentally (autosomal), and paternally (Y chromosome) inherited DNA sequences, as well as by morphological features. The reciprocal monophyly of the mtDNA genealogies and the largely parapatric distribution of these lineages is consistent with reproductive isolation. The new lineage is currently known from at least seven specimens: Sri Lanka (1), Gilbert Islands, Republic of Kiribati (1+), Palmyra Atoll, Northern Line Islands, U.S.A. (3), Maldives (1), and Seychelles (1). The type specimen (Sri Lanka) was described as a new species, M. hotaula, in 1963, but later synonymized with M. ginkgodens. This discovery brings the total number of Mesoplodon species to 15, making it, by far, the most speciose yet least known genus of cetaceans.