dolphin phylogeny

There is a new paper on dolphin molecular phylogeny:
The paper shows that:
1. Burrunan dolphin is not a valid species (but a good subspecies).
2. Genera Stenella, Delphinus and Lagenodelphis should be lumped (Delphinus has priority). This actually has been clear for some time, but here’s another confirmation.
3. The authors say Tursiops should be kept as separate genus because it’s monophyletic, but I think it should be also subsumed into Delphinus, considering the long history of hybridization.

1 Comment

  • Morgan Churchill

    One thing to note however is that this paper is very very focused on Tursiops, with limited sampling of other relevant taxa, including no Sousa and not all Stenella species. So while all of these taxa (with the exception of Lagenodelphis perhaps) be lumped into Delphinus, I am skeptical we will get much more movement on the area.

    Although with more sampling, it wouldn’t surprise me if Lagenodelphis remains valid. Morphologically it is distinct and prior phylogenetic analyses place it as the most basal species within the clade.

    I had an undergraduate student a few summers ago that looked at how distinct the skulls of the different dolphins in this subfamily were from one another, using morphometrics. Samples sizes were limited for most species, but Delphinus and Stenella did show a lot of overlap, with Tursiops being very distinct. Need to revisit that project again once I increase my sample sizes.

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