Speciation in the deep: genomics and morphology reveal a new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon eueu

Emma L. Carroll, Michael R. McGowen, Morgan L. McCarthy, Felix G. Marx, Natacha Aguilar, Merel L. Dalebout, Sascha Dreyer, Oscar E. Gaggiotti, Sabine S. Hansen, Anton van Helden, Aubrie B. Onoufriou, Robin W. Baird, C. Scott Baker, Simon Berrow, Danielle Cholewiak, Diane Claridge, Rochelle Constantine, Nicholas J. Davison, Catarina Eira, R. Ewan FordyceJohn Gatesy, G. J. Greg Hofmeyr, Vidal Martín, James G. Mead, Antonio A. Mignucci-Giannoni, Phillip A. Morin, Cristel Reyes, Emer Rogan, Massimiliano Rosso, Mónica A. Silva, Mark S. Springer, Debbie Steel, Morten Tange Olsen

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The deep sea has been described as the last major ecological frontier, as much of its biodiversity is yet to be discovered and described. Beaked whales (ziphiids) are among the most visible inhabitants of the deep sea, due to their large size and worldwide distribution, and their taxonomic diversity and much about their natural history remain poorly understood. We combine genomic and morphometric analyses to reveal a new Southern Hemisphere ziphiid species, Ramari's beaked whale, Mesoplodon eueu, whose name is linked to the Indigenous peoples of the lands from which the species holotype and paratypes were recovered. Mitogenome and ddRAD-derived phylogenies demonstrate reciprocally monophyletic divergence between M. eueu and True's beaked whale (M. mirus) from the North Atlantic, with which it was previously subsumed. Morphometric analyses of skulls also distinguish the two species. A time-calibrated mitogenome phylogeny and analysis of two nuclear genomes indicate divergence began circa 2 million years ago (Ma), with geneflow ceasing 0.35–0.55 Ma. This is an example of how deep sea biodiversity can be unravelled through increasing international collaboration and genome sequencing of archival specimens. Our consultation and involvement with Indigenous peoples offers a model for broadening the cultural scope of the scientific naming process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20211213
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1961
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2021


  • Ramari's beaked whale
  • Mesoplodon eueu
  • True's beaked whale
  • Mesoplodon mirus
  • Taxonomy
  • Biodiversity


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  • Speciation in the deep: genomics and morphology reveal a new species of beaked whale

    Carroll, E. L. (Contributor), McGowen, M. R. (Contributor), McCarthy, M. L. (Contributor), Marx, F. G. (Contributor), Aguilar De Soto, N. (Contributor), Dalebout, M. L. (Contributor), Dreyer, S. (Contributor), Gaggiotti, O. E. (Contributor), Hansen, S. S. (Contributor), Van Helden, A. (Contributor), Onoufriou, A. B. (Contributor), Baird, R. W. (Contributor), Baker, C. S. (Contributor), Berrow, S. (Contributor), Cholewiak, D. (Contributor), Claridge, D. (Contributor), Constantine, R. (Contributor), Davison, N. J. (Contributor), Eira, C. (Contributor), Fordyce, R. E. (Contributor), Gatesy, J. (Contributor), Hofmeyr, G. J. G. (Contributor), Martin, V. (Contributor), Mead, J. G. (Contributor), Mignucci-Giannoni, A. A. (Contributor), Morin, P. A. (Contributor), Reyes, C. (Contributor), Rogan, E. (Contributor), Rosso, M. (Contributor), Silva, M. A. (Contributor), Springer, M. S. (Contributor), Steel, D. (Contributor) & Olsen, M. T. (Contributor), Dryad, 22 Oct 2021


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