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Making a more accurate pregnancy test for humpback whales

Nature Scientific Reports
Dalle Luche
CNMN Collection WIRED Media Group
Condé Nast

Cathleen O'Grady
Greta Dalle Luche


North Atlantic

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The New York Times
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And if a blubber-sampling dart wasn't bad enough, some dart gun pregnancy tests might not even be all that accurate.A recent paper in Nature Scientific Reports found evidence that the standard humpback whale pregnancy test was failing to spot a whole lot of pregnant females. Chemist Greta Dalle Luche and her colleagues argue that the standard test has been missing important information.Currently, progesterone is seen as the smoking gun for humpback whale pregnancy. If humpback whales are similar, testing only for progesterone could be failing to catch the whales at later stages of pregnancy.Dalle Luche and her colleagues wanted to find out if there were other hormones that could be useful for humpback pregnancy tests. High levels of these hormones have been found in other mammals during pregnancy, suggesting that this might be a better way to detect humpback pregnancies.Female humpback whales on their southerly migration present a complicated picture: some might be in the early stages of detectable pregnancy, some too recently pregnant for hormone changes to be detected in blubber, and some ovulating.

As said here by Cathleen O'Grady