Killer whales (Orcinus orca) can be surprisingly finicky eaters. In the North Pacific and Antarctic, some feed only on fish; others, only on mammals—dietary preferences that seem to have led to new species of orcas. Some researchers think that a similar process is occurring in the killer whale populations of the Northeast Atlantic. But speciation there may be a long time in coming. A new paper examining these orcas’ diets over the last 10,000 years reveals that most are not as picky as their relatives; those eating herring today may be feasting on baby seals tomorrow. The study shows that the Northeast Atlantic whales may only be at the beginning of the speciation process.
Very interesting to watch this micro-evolution occur. If only we lived longer…
- Niches and speciation in orca (earthtimes.org)