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Scientists discover first-ever dolphin with ‘thumbs’
Featured Image Credit: Alexis Rosenfeld/Getty Images / Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute/Alexandros Frantzis

Scientists discover first-ever dolphin with ‘thumbs’

During the summer, scientists discovered the first-ever dolphin with 'thumbs' in the Gulf of Corinth off the coast of Greece.

Scientists have discovered the first ever-dolphin with 'thumbs' - something that has left them scratching their heads.

In the past few weeks alone, scientists have discovered what's inside Earth's core and found $540 billion worth of 'white gold' sitting beneath giant lake.

But this latest discovery is perhaps one of the most surprising out of the lot, and it all comes from a dolphin spotted in the Gulf of Corinth off the coast of Greece.

New photographs released show the strange dolphin having hook-shaped 'thumbs' carved out of its flippers.

The dolphin in question has been spotted on two separate occasions by researchers with the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute this summer during boat surveys off the coast of Greece.

But despite being very different from its dolphin friends, the animal managed to keep pace with the rest of its pod.

Alexandros Frantzis, the scientific coordinator and president of the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, told LiveScience that it was even seen 'swimming, leaping, bow-riding, playing' with the other dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth.

The dolphin photographed this summer.
Alexandros Frantzis/Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute

Frantzis, who took the pictures, added: "It was the very first time we saw this surprising flipper morphology in 30 years of surveys in the open sea and also in studies while monitoring all the stranded dolphins along the coasts of Greece for 30 years."

The Gulf of Corinth is certainly known for being the home of plenty mixed-species - though this latest discovery has surprised scientists just a bit.

The dolphin with the world's first ever 'thumb' was a striped dolphin - with around 1,300 of these living in the Gulf.

However, the unusual flipper from the recently discovered dolphin looks very different - and Francis suggests that it may be because 'the expression of some rare and 'irregular' genes' due to inbreeding.

The 'thumbs' are a first of the kind.
Alexandros Frantzis/Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute

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."

Luckily for humans, these thumbs aren't opposable - as, according to a 2017 study, dolphins are virtually on par with humans for 'planetary dominance'.

Because then we'd be royally f**ked.

Topics: Science, Animals