User Tools

Site Tools

Please register and/or login to edit and create pages


start:life_sciences:biology:narwhal_tusk

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown

Narwhal Tusks

“The narwhal, Monodon monoceros, has long fascinated sea explorers, scientists and aristocracy. This arctic whale is characterized by a single spiraled tusk extending six to nine feet, emerging from the upper jaw and through the lips of adult males. Males have the characteristic left front tooth extending approximately 8 feet and variable depending on the whale and the age. The right tooth remains embedded in the skull and measures roughly one foot. Some females may exhibit a tusk, and in rare instances a male with two tusks has been observed.”

Source: narwhal.org

The function of the tusks has not been fully explained. Theories suggest that they might be:

• Sensory organs: They are known to be replete with sensory nerve fibres, and may be able to sense temperature, salt concentration, electric fields etc.
• Fighting weapons: This has only rarely been observed.
• Communication devices: Either by visual signalling, or because of their tactile sensing capabilities - through tusk rubbing.
• Ice-breaking devices: There are anecdotal reports that the (air-breathing) animals might use the tusks to break through sea ice coverings from underneath in order to create breathing holes in the ice.

More info here

    Share this page


DOKUWIKI IMPLEMENTATION DESIGN BY UNIV.ORG.UK