Reproduction and Life

What it takes to be a Beluga


Facts and About Me






























ŠLisa Walter, 2007

Whooo Are You....

Domain-- Eukarya
Kingdom-- Animalia
Phylum-- Chordata
Class-- Mammalia
Order-- Cetacea
Family-- Monodontidae
Genus-- Delphinapterus
Species-- D. leucus

      The Beluga (or White whale) is scientifically known as Delphinapterus leucus . Belugas are considered Eukaryotes, they have multiple cells with nuclei that work together to complete the organism. The phylum Chordata is named that way because all the organisms in the phylum have a notochord (spinal cord) which means that the animal has a complex nervous system and belugas contain that characteristic. The Class Mammalia has a main characteristic that means the animal reproduces sexually and produce young within their bodies, opposed to laying eggs. Cetacea simply means the organism is aquatic, flippers, and a hole on top of their head for respiration. The family of Monodontidae helps specify the group down to toothed whales that are specific to belugas or narwhals. Delphinapterus leucus  in Latin means " white dolphin without a wing" which is true because the Beluga lacks a dorsal fin and is also the only purely white whale. The name 'Beluga' comes from the Russian word for 'white' but is translated to leucus in the Latin language. 

       Most researchers have concluded that Belugas became more strictly aquatic animals from shallow water dwelling mammals similar to Hippos. A reason this theory holds true is because Belugas possess an ankle bone that is a bone specifically found in the even-toed ungulates (found below). Also, DNA sequencing has further proven similarities between specifically Beluga whales and Hippopotamuses.

*** Belugas do not look closely related to Humans but they do share many of the same bones that humans have in their hands and arms, such as ; ulna, radius, humerous.

The Above Phylogenetic Tree: Although the Beluga shares the Family Monodontidae with narwhals the beluga is actually more closely related to dolphins than most whales. The tree above indicates that the beluga is obviously close to the whale species but surprisingly close to the hippopotamus. Which supports the belief that they have evolved from a land-based animal that resembles those of the Ungulates (such as hippopotamus, cows, sheep etc.)

       * I Created The Phylogenetic Tree Based on Information that I had Collected. -- there are multiple other branches to the image above but I only included the most specific and meaningful branches.