The carcass is the best clue we have about Cuvier’s beetle

Mysterious whales hold their breath in the dark waters of the invertebrates, such as sea urchins, worms and crabs. Cuvier’s beetle as a group of species has long been elusive to humans, but new research sheds light on the habits of these creatures, and two new subpopulations have been discovered in the Atlantic Ocean.

“I remember when I did the analysis, I almost started crying,” says Kelly Smith, a researcher at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, who studies Cuvier’s beetles. “I was very excited because it was completely new. For about an hour I knew that no one in the world knew.”

Smith’s recent research examined the carcasses of Cuvier’s beetle, a European butterfly, stored in museums and research centers, and left behind or bycatch in the fishery. By analyzing specific chemicals in whale skin, muscle, and bone tissue, researchers were able to determine that there are two subpopulations of Sowerby’s beetle in the East and West Atlantic.The result was published in a magazine Conservation science frontier It can provide a basis for a better understanding of these species and may shape future conservation efforts.

Little is known about the life of Cuvier’s beaked whales, despite the fact that they make up more than 25% of the existing cetaceans (groups including dolphins, porpoises and whales). Unlike other animals that swim on the shore or near the surface of the sea, Cuvier’s beetles prefer deeper offshore waters and are difficult to find and track. The dark gray or black body color and small dorsal fin make it even more difficult to distinguish from the surrounding ocean.

Currently, 23 species of Cuvier’s beetle are recognized, some that have never been seen alive and some that are only known from stranded carcasses. However, this number can easily increase or decrease. For example, if an individual was thought to be a strange version of a known species, DNA analysis would reveal that it is a completely different species, as it recently happened in Japan.

Cuvier’s beetles usually spend a lot of time in the deep waters of the open ocean, but it’s not clear what they’re doing there. We know that their bodies have evolved to spend long hours at these depths. Cuvier’s red whale keeps Mammal record Both the deepest dive (about 2 miles below the surface) and the longest breath-holding time (137.5 minutes).

“They are very large animals compared to us, but we still know very little about them,” says Chris Stinson, curator of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver. It manages the skull and skeleton of the species Cuvier’s beetle. “They are in the open sea, come up to the surface to breathe, spend 80% of their time in the water, using sensations that we do not understand. I’m looking for something. “

Some Cuvier’s beetles mainly eat fish in the water column, others are considered to be experts in deep-sea squid, and others prefer the depth of benthic bites of fish on the seabed. There is. Cetaceans are known as social animals that live in groups as a whole, but little is known about the daily habits of Cuvier’s beaked whales.

“Most of what we know about Cuvier’s beetle comes from the corpse, because it’s so difficult to study when it’s actually alive,” says Smith. “It’s really hard to guess from the corpses what they were doing when they were alive, in terms of social connections, play, etc.”

However, as Smith’s recent study showed, there is a lot of information that can be obtained from corpses.

The team examined the carbon and nitrogen in the whale’s body and provided information on the whale’s habitat and its position in the food chain. The type of analysis they used is called stable isotope analysis and has the advantage of being fast and relatively inexpensive. This is an ideal application for the elusive Cuvier’s beetle. Because their tracking and locating is very difficult and expensive.

By studying other elements such as oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur in the future, this technology may provide more insight into secret whale habits and the environment. In the future, Smith wants to perform genetic analysis to better understand the two subpopulations of Sowerby’s beetle.

Little is known about Cuvier’s beetle, so there are currently no conservation or management plans for Cuvier’s beetle. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers these to be “lack of data.” This means that there is not enough information to assess the risk of extinction based on distribution or population status.

However, studies like Smith can tell us more about the habitats and migration patterns of these elusive species and may shape future conservation strategies.

“Literally, you can’t save something you don’t know,” Smith says. “We don’t know where these animals are or what habitats they use — [there’s] Some kind of rice terraces off the coast of Catchall, what does that mean? Where are they? Which shelves are they using? Is there anything that needs more protection than others? You can’t really make a concrete, meaningful and feasible plan until you have the answers to those questions. “ The carcass is the best clue we have about Cuvier’s beetle

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