False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)

The false killer whale is one of the larger members of the family Delphinidae, with adult males reaching lengths of almost 6 m and females reaching up to 5 m. The common name comes from similarity not in external appearance to the killer whale (Orcinus orca) but rather in skull morphology of these two species. In fact, the two species do not appear to be closely related; based on genetic similarity, false killer whales appear to be most closely related to the Risso’s dolphin (Grampus riseus ), melon-headed whale (Peponocephala lectra ), pygmy killer whale (Feresa ttenuata ), and pilot whales (Globicephala spp.). There is evidence of geographic variation in skull morphology (Kitchener et al., 1990), but no subspecies are currently recognized.


Baird, R.W. 2009. False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Pages 405-406 in Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Edited by W.F. Perrin, B. Wursig and J.G.M. Thewissen. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Download PDF