Unique Dolphin Discovery: Gulf of Corinth Resident Flaunts Hook-Shaped 'Thumbs'

Featured Image Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images / Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute/Alexandros Frantzis

Scientists were taken aback when they stumbled upon a striped dolphin off the Greek coast in the Gulf of Corinth, sporting peculiar hook-shaped "thumbs" on its flippers.

Documented during boat surveys by the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, the dolphin's unique morphology stood out among its pod members.

Although genetically distinct, the striped dolphin seamlessly integrated with its group, participating in typical dolphin activities like swimming and playing.

Featured Image Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images / Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute/Alexandros Frantzis
Featured Image Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images / Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute/Alexandros Frantzis

Researchers speculate that the dolphin's unusual appendages may be attributed to the expression of rare and irregular genes linked to inbreeding. Despite its distinct features, the animal appears to be thriving, emphasizing the diverse marine life in the Gulf of Corinth.

Lisa Noelle Cooper, an associate professor of mammalian anatomy and neurobiology at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, also agreed that the 'thumbs' is likely due to genes.

She also told LiveScience: "I've never seen a flipper of a cetacean that had this shape.

"Given that the defect is in both the left and right flippers, it is probably the result of an altered genetic program that sculpts the flipper during development as a calf."

Adding: "The hook-shaped 'thumb' may have some bone inside of it, but it certainly isn't mobile.

"It is lovely to see that this animal is thriving."

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