Scientists decided to examine the remains found on a beach in south GeorgiaNearby are abandoned research stations for these huge animals.
They compared the ancient bones to the DNA of modern whales. The result of the research turned out to be surprising, even for the researchers themselves.
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It turns out that whaling (which was especially popular in the twentieth century) not only contributed to a significant decline in the numbers of these unusual animals.
A surprising discovery for scientists
Scientists’ work shows that frequent whaling led to a significant decline in species DNA diversity. The marks on the bones prove this.
DNA loss has been observed, among others, in blue whales and humpback whales.
The DNA that is passed from generation to generation includes, among other things: the animal’s cultural memory and place of feeding and reproduction. If the maternal lineage were destroyed, the defining characteristic of a particular species would simply disappear, said the study’s lead author, Angela Sremba, who conducted the research as part of her doctoral studies at Oregon State.
Scientists point out that hunting has also led to a significant decline in the numbers of the world’s largest whales. The fishermen were looking for the largest possible specimens they could catch.
More than 175,000 whales died off the coast of southern Georgia over a period of 60 years. Globally, poachers have killed up to two million of these animals. Although the world’s whale population is beginning to recover, more species are still at risk of extinction.
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