This tumblr's for all the great men and women of science for whom we owe our current understanding of the natural world; their achievements, their failures, and even their quirks, we celebrate them all.
For Science. For Inquiry. For Humanity.
Mysteries of Evolution: The Narwhal’s “Tusk,” or Rather, Tooth
For some reason, atheists are obsessed with narwhals, a fascination that I can’t quite understand. I mean, I do like them, but why do they come up so often, invariably accompanied by incredibly annoying narwhal songs? At any rate, let us leave this persiflage behind and deal with some real narwhal science, reported in a new journal paper. It’s an investigation of the nature of their tusks, and gives some fascinating results.
But first, a bit about the beasts. The species is Monodon monoceros (Greek for “one tooth, one horn—a clue to what its “horn” is), and its closest relative is the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), with these two species constituting the entire family Monodontidae. Narwhals are small, with males growing up to only sixteen feet long, but they’re heavy: although three times as long as a human, they can weigh up to 4,000 pounds!
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