The myth has come true: local whalers called it Kurotsuchikujira (Black Whale) and scientists have confirmed its existence: this new species of zifio (a type of cetacean odontocete) located on the shores of the island of Hokkaido has been baptized with the name of Berardius minimus.
The study presenting this new species is a collaboration between the National Museum of Nature and Science of Tokyo, the University of Hokkaido, the University of Iwate and the National Museum of Natural History of the United States.
Although they share characteristics with other species, the color and other characteristics of these zifios have been sufficient to determine that these beaked whales belonged to a currently unclassified species. Specimens of this unknown species were studied in terms of their morphology, osteology and molecular phylogeny. According Tadasu K. Yamada from the research team of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo:
Just by looking at them, we could say that they have a noticeably smaller body size, a more spindle-shaped body, a shorter beak and a darker color compared to the known 'Berardius' species.
Local Hokkaido whalers also refer to some whales in the region as Karasu (raven). In fact, the research team speculates on the possibility that 'Karasu' is another species.