The genetic diversity of narwhals is strikingly low compared to other Arctic creatures and many less successful species, scientists have revealed.
Researchers who sequenced their genome are surprised the trait appears to be having for no impact on their survival, as they continue to thrive.
It’s contrary to what is usually the case in biology, where low genetic variation often causes a species to struggle in numbers.
The narwhal’s case shows persistently low diversity and throws into question the popular notion that a narrow gene pool is associated with negative consequences.
Scientists have ruled out inbreeding as a cause of the Narwhal’s low genetic diversity, or a sudden event that could have reduced their genetic population to a small representation.
Whatever the cause, the trait has likely persisted for tens or hundreds of thousands of years.