Evolutionary Secrets of “Old Tom” and the Killer Whales of Eden, Australia Revealed by Genetic Study; Famous Killer Whale Helped Hunters Find Baleen Whales

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Evolutionary biologists have, for the first time, decoded the genetic lineage of a famous killer whale and a pod that once worked alongside whale hunters off the coast of Eden, New South Wales, Australia. Old Tom was the leader of a pod of killer whales that famously helped whalers hunt baleen whales in the 20th century, has ancestral links to modern-day killer whales in New Zealand, according to new DNA research. Old Tom also shared a common ancestor with killer whales from Australasia, the North Pacific, and North Atlantic Oceans, but is most similar to modern New Zealand killer whales. However, most of Tom’s DNA code is not found in other killer whales globally suggesting that the killer whales of Eden may have become extinct locally. Known as the Killers of Eden, Old Tom and his family would help whalers hunt their target and were rewarded with the lips and tongues from the whale carcass. This is known as the “Law of the Tongue.”

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