The family Monodontidae is a small family of whales containing just two species. Both are well known, the narwhal and the beluga whales. Members of infraorder Ceteacea, these whales have recently been demonstrated to hybridize.1 This hybrid, termed a “narluga” by Dr. Georgia Purdom of Answers in Genesis, answers some baraminological questions. demonstrates conclusively that these are the same baramin. However, it does raise other questions about the ability of one baramin to stand-alone or whether it will fold into a different baramin.
Based on the hybridization data presented, Monodontidae members are confirmed to be members of the same baramin. Hybridization is the single most important element in the enhanced congitum model. If two species hybridize, they are in the same baramin. However, this does raise the question of whether anything else fits into the Monodontidae baramin or if it contains just two extant species.
To answer this question, we need to carefully examine whales which are classified as being closely related to Monodontidae to see if they should be lumped into one of those groups. According to the most recent phylogeny of Monodontidae I could find, the creatures most closely related to the Monodontidae whales are the porpoises of genus Neophocaena. <sup>2</sup> This genus is found in family Phocoenidae, a family believed to be closely related to Delphinidae. There is some evidence of hybridization within Phocoenidae but no documented cases of them hybridizing outside the family with either with Delphinidae or with Monodontidae. Therefore, comparison to Monodontidae must be done using the cognitive method.
Cognitively the porpoises of family Phocoenidae do resemble the larger whales of Monodontidae, at least superficially. However, there are significant differences. Monodontidae has effectively no snout, with the head rounding nearly to a sphere, while the Phocoenidae tends to taper to a broad, blunt point. Further, Phocoenidae lacks the large melon that characterizes Monodontidae. Monodontidae members also have very few teeth. Narwhals have just two, including the famous tusk, while belugas only have a few small teeth. Phocoenidae by contrast has numerous, well-developed teeth. Phocoenidae is much smaller than Monodontidae. The largest Phocoenidae member is just over seven feet, while the smallest Monodontidae member is just under ten feet. While the general morphology is similar, this is likely a byproduct of being designed to live in very similar habitats.
Genomic data is available for some of these taxa. Unlike most taxa we study, whole sections of the genomes are available. Using sequences of similar length, the narwhal, (Monodon monoceros) and the narrow-ridged finless porpoise (Neophoecena asiaeorientalis) exhibited around 84% similarity when examined using BLAST technology. Using numerous publicly available sequences from the NIH databases, the BLAST sequences of around 950,000 base pairs each revealed low similarity. Given that the enhnaced cognitum model of baraminology predicts that, in eukaryotic sexually reproducing taxa, the similarity within the same baramin will be upwards of 95%, this would seem to indicate that Monodontidae and Phocoenidae are not members of the same baramin.
However, it is wise to be cautious here. The available DNA sequences are shotgun sequences, meaning they sequenced what they could and did not bother with the rest. Further, because they are shotgun sequences, they are not well organized. Therefore the comparisons I made could very well be comparisons of genes on different chromosomes or genes with totally different functionality. Therefore, it is wisest not to put an over reliance on DNA sequencing at this time. This may change in the future, however.
Given the DNA sequence data is slightly shaky, what then can we determine about the relationship between Monodontidae and Phocoenisae? It would appear, given that there is no hybrid data connecting the two families, and they do not appear to be cognitively close, that they are not the same baramin. DNA data provides tenuous support for this conclusion. However, Monodontidae is firmly established as a baramin based on the hybridization evidence recently presented. Whether Phocoenidae is its own baramin remains to be seen but should be examined by creation baraminologists sometime in the near future. Regardless, the Monodontidae baramin appears to contain just two extant species, the narwhal and the beluga whales.
- Mikkel Skovrind et al. “Hybridization between two high Arctic cetaceans confirmed by genomic analysis.” Scientific Reports 9 (2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44038-0
- Juan P. Zurano et al. “Cetartiodactyla: Updating a time-calibrated molecular phylogeny” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 133. (2019) Pages 256-262. http://www.chufpb.com.br/danmesq/Publicacoes_files/1-s2.0-S1055790318302720-main.pdf