Taxonomic status and geographical cranial variation of common dolphins (Delphinus) in the eastern north Atlantic

S. Murphy, J. Herman, Graham John Pierce, E. Rogan, A. Kitchener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


The common dolphin has a widespread distribution and is relatively abundant in the temperate to subtropical waters of the eastern North Atlantic. However, it is not known whether different species, subspecies, or populations occur in this region. We examined 393 common dolphin skulls obtained from both stranded and bycaught individuals collected between 1901 and 2005. The series included skulls of 152 females and 199 males, from animals ranging in body length from 93 to 230 cm and 105 to 244 cm, respectively. The ranges of total body length, skull size, RL/ZGW ratio and maximum upper alveolar (tooth) count of common dolphins in the eastern North Atlantic overlapped with those of both short- (D. delphis) and long-beaked (D. capensis) species found off the Californian coast. However, in the absence of additional data, the common dolphin in the eastern North Atlantic is regarded here as a large form of Delphinus delphis. Sexual dimorphism and possible sex-linked characters were identified within the sample. Results of the current study indicate some population differentiation within the eastern North Atlantic, with common dolphins off Portugal showing segregation in morphometric characteristics from common dolphins in other areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-599
Number of pages26
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • common dolphin
  • Delphinus delphis
  • cetaceans
  • morphometrics
  • eastern North Atlantic


Dive into the research topics of 'Taxonomic status and geographical cranial variation of common dolphins (Delphinus) in the eastern north Atlantic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this