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It’s all in the family for the “reptilian” looking Rough-toothed dolphin

For the Rough-toothed dolphin, Steno bredanensis, group travel is the way to go! One of the smaller and less understood members of the Delphinidae family, rough-toothed dolphins are a generally social species that travels in tight-knit pods of 10-20 individuals. Rough-toothed dolphins are known to often associate with other cetacean species, including bottlenose dolphins, pantropical spotted dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, and spinner dolphins. The species is found throughout the world and most often frequents deep warm tropical waters and warmer temperate waters. [1].

Rough-toothed dolphins most common exterior characteristics are their dark gray bodies with distinct white throat and "lips". They also have a narrow dark cape patterned feature between the blowhole and dorsal fin. The animal’s underside is typically distinguished by some white, lighter spots, or blotches. [2].

Boasting a unique “reptilian” appearance that is atypical among their Delphinidae family counterparts, rough-toothed dolphins have a small head with a long beak. The species does not have any real feature separation between their sloping melon (forehead) and beak either. Their dorsal fin and flippers are quite long. [3].

Steno bredanensis by Gustavo Perez, [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via

Today we share the chromosome-length genome assembly for the rough-toothed dolphin. This is a $1K genome assembly with a scaffold n50 = 95 Mb and a contig n50 = 60 Kb. For assembly procedure details, please see Dudchenko et al., (2018).

The sample for this genome assembly was provided to us by Barbie Halaska, Necropsy Manager at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. As the world’s largest marine mammal hospital, the Center generates research findings and scientific outputs at volumes similar to top academic institutions. In addition, the Center serves as a resource and thought leader in animal care, education and scientific communities.

This sample was collected by The Marine Mammal Center under the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program (MMHSPR) Permit No. 18786-04 issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The work at DNA Zoo was performed under Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) Permit No. 18786-03.

Want to compare this Rough-toothed Dolphin genome against other members of the Delphinidae family? You’re in luck as this is the DNAZoo’s 9th genome assembly of a dolphin species! Check out, e.g. the assembly pages for the bottlenose dolphin and the Risso’s dolphin.

We thank Barbie Halaska and Ben Neely for their help with this genome assembly!

Learn more about the impact of The Marine Mammal Center’s scientific research by visiting the Center’s website at

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