Monday, 18 October 2010

Dentists Discover Secret of Narwhal's Tusk - CBC News

photo credit National Institute of Standards and Technology & Wikipedia

For a long time, we weren't really quite sure what the narwhal's tusk - actually a modified tooth - was for. People have guessed things from mating rituals between rival males to spearing fish for dinner, but now we could possibly be looking at the real answer.

Researchers in the US are saying the 1.5-metre-long tusk is actually a "sensory probe" filled with 10 million nerve connections that can be used to sense changes in water temperature and detect if a prey fish has recently been in the area.

"And when Narwhals display "tusking" behaviour, or rub tusks, they're likely experiencing a unique sensation, say scientists. The researchers say there is no other animal with a comparable ability in nature, and certainly no comparable tooth with that kind of functional adaptation."

Very different, very interesting!

Full article here (CBC News)

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