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Common dolphin

(Delphinus delphis)

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Description

The common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is the most abundant cetacean in the world, with a global population of about six million. Despite this fact and its vernacular name, the common dolphin is not thought of as the archetypal dolphin, with that distinction belonging to the bottlenose dolphin due to its popular appearances in aquaria and the media. However, the common dolphin is often depicted in Ancient Greek and Roman art and culture, most notably in a mural painted by the Greek Minoan civilization. It is presently the only member of the genus Delphinus. The common dolphin belongs to the subfamily Delphininae, making this dolphin closely related to the three different species of bottlenose dolphins, humpback dolphins, striped dolphins, spinner dolphins, clymene dolphin, spotted dolphins, fraser's dolphin and the tucuxi and guiana dolphin. The common dolphin was originally categorized into two different species (now thought to be ecotypes), the short-beaked common dolphin and the long-beaked common dolphin. However, recent evidence has shown that many populations of long-beaked common dolphins around the world are not closely related to one another and are often derived from a short-beaked ancestor and do not always share common derived characteristics. For this reason, they are no longer considered different species. Common dolphin are medium-sized dolphins; adults range between 1.9 and 2.5 m (6.2 and 8.2 ft) long, and can weigh between 80–235 kg (176–518 lb), although the range between 80–150 kg (180–330 lb) is more common. Males are generally longer and heavier. The color pattern on the body is unusual. The back is dark and the belly is white, while on each side is an hourglass pattern colored light grey, yellow, or gold in front and dirty grey in back. They have long, thin rostra with up to 50–60 small, sharp, interlocking teeth on each side of each jaw. Despite the historic practice of lumping the entire genus Delphinus into a single species, these widely distributed dolphins exhibit a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Indeed, over the past few decades, over 20 distinct species in the genus have been proposed. Scientists in California in the 1960s concluded there were two species — the long-beaked and short-beaked. The long-beaked common dolphin was thought to have a disjointed range in coastal areas in tropical and warmer temperate oceans.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Mammalia
Order:Cetacea
Family:Delphinidae
Genus:Delphinus
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