Sars adopted it as the common name in 1874. Blue whales were referred to as 'Sibbald's rorqual', after Robert Sibbald, who first described the species.
It was hunted almost to the point of extinction by whalers until the International Whaling Commission banned all blue whale hunting in 1966.
In 1983, a sexually immature male specimen was taken.
In 1984, whalers caught a female hybrid between a fin and a blue whale off northwestern Spain.
Molecular analyses revealed a blue whale mother and a fin whale father. In 1986, a pregnant female whale was caught.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed blue whales as endangered as of 2018.
A 2018 analysis estimates that the Balaenopteridae family diverged from other families in the late Miocene, between 10.48 and 4.98 million years ago. The earliest discovered anatomically modern blue whale is a partial skull fossil found in southern Italy, dating to the Middle Pleistocene, roughly 1.5–1.25 million years ago.
DNA tests done in Iceland on a blue whale killed 7 July 2018 by the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf, found that the whale was a hybrid of a fin whale father and a blue whale mother; however, the results are pending independent testing and verification of the samples.
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