Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Wanna hear the Narwhal Song again?


Nah, I wouldn’t do that to you, that would be mean. Instead, watch some real narwhals, and see what they do with that long horn — it’s a fishwhacker!

Comments

  1. microraptor says

    I’m not convinced that that’s the tusk’s primary use: if it were a feeding tool I’d expect less sexual dimorphism.

  2. marinerachel says

    It’ll be interesting to see if more communities of narwhal do this. I haven’t seen this footage in it’s entirety so I don’t know whether it’s just this one that’s figured out the trick or whether they learnt it from their mom and how much else of it’s community learnt it from each other. Narwhal are awfully bright and though socially more promiscuous than some cetaceans they probably have distinct cultures from one another. That thing’s probably got a whole bunch of uses depending on who you are and where you’re from.

    They’re just gorgeous though. It’s a bummer they aren’t easier to learn about. Shy things.

  3. Ichthyic says

    I’m not convinced that that’s the tusk’s primary use: if it were a feeding tool I’d expect less sexual dimorphism.

    exactly. there is no reason presented to reject extant hypotheses surrounding this trait. only support for the idea it might serve multiple purposes.

    likewise, sexual dimorphism in and of itself is insufficient to fully support a sexual selection hypothesis.

  4. Raucous Indignation says

    My youngest daughter is going to LOVE the Narwhal Song! It’ll be a nice change from It’s Raining Tacos.

  5. anchor says

    After watching through that carefully 5 or 6 times, I honestly can’t say the quick lateral movements actually whacked any fish, even though the end of the tusk may have been in or near a school of them. Each example of that ‘whack’ was a whale reaching for a fish already near the side of its mouth, to gulp it. One might speculate that the tusk’s tip may mimic another fish within a school whenever it shifts rapidly from side to side, so as to fool the lateral line sensors in fish in the school that its just another of their own amongst them instead of a big beast looming up behind them, or perhaps it might ‘shepherd’ them into facing away from the narwhal as it closes in. That speculation seems a bit thin, but no more thinner than the whacking theory.

  6. pacojazztorious says

    I thought it would show them baconing at midnight. I am disappoint.