What do you get when you cross a narwhal and a beluga? The newly-discovered narluga

Scientists have long theorized that an oddly-shaped skull found nearly three decades ago belonged to a narwhal-beluga hybrid, but couldn’t confirm it until now

After a mysterious skull sat in a museum for almost three decades, scientists have finally used it to confirm the existence of a narwhal-beluga hybrid — the narluga.

In 1990, marine mammal scientist Mads Peter Heide-Jorgensen met an Inuit hunter in Disko Bay, West Greenland, who had an unusual-looking skull on his mantelpiece. The hunter had been out hunting a few years before and came across three whale-like creatures he had never seen before, so he kept the skull of one of them as a keepsake.

He described the creature of origin as some sort of whale that was completely grey, had flippers like a beluga, but a tail like a narwhal.

Heide-Jorgensen brought the skull back to the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen and, after studying it, he suggested it might be a hybrid of a beluga and a narwhal. But there was nothing more they could do to confirm that theory, so the mystery of the skull stayed unsolved for almost 30 years.

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