Animals / Mammal Facts / Cetacea - Marine Mammals / Long-Toothed Whale - Shy, Tusked Cold-Water Mammal

Long-Toothed Whale - Shy, Tusked Cold-Water Mammal


long toothed beaked

 

This long-toothed beaked whale (also called the strap-toothed whale) can have teeth so long, it's fatal! It isn't always easy being of the male gender in the animal world, for example spiders and insects, give up their lives as they are eaten by the female following copulation. Some of these male whales suffer a fate nearly as weird and equally fatal (but not caused directly by the actions of the female gender). Their teeth (or tusks) are so affected by the testosterone levels generated by the drive to mate, that they grow in a great arc, practically sealing their mouths shut. Let this be a warning to all those high-testosterone machos out there. The overgrown, curving tusks that, when they are fully developed, only permit the jaws to open a few centimeters. The function of these bizarre teeth is not known exactly, although the scarred bodies of adult males suggest that the males may be using them to spar with competitors.

 

 

whale skull

 

How can these enormous creatures (reaching as much as 20 ft or more than 6 meters) when limited by such a handicap, get enough food? It seems likely that they use powerful pulses of sound (which are also used for echo-location) to stun their prey, then suck mightily to get their food through the tiny mouth opening. This is a strategy not unlike another large sea mammal that uses suction to feed; walruses have been known to remove the brains from young seals by sucking on their nostrils. The favorite food of the whale is squid but with a limited mouth opening they are limited to eating smaller squid.

 

strap toothed

 

Otherwise the long or strap-toothed whale ares either somewhat lucky or clever because they have never been targeted by hunters nor do they usually get entangled in fishing gear. They are skittish and usually go away when seen from boats (hence, photos are not too common). They live in the cold waters of the southern hemisphere.

 

flying strap toothed

 

 

 

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