Monday, May 30, 2016
Odobenocetops was a small whale with two long tusks who lived about 11-5 million years ago in what is now Peru and Chile. They look kind of like a cross between a narwhal and a walrus, (though they are not closely related to walruses, which are probably pretty distant from whales in the grand evolutionary tree.) They are related to narwhals, though--but scientists think the giant, backwards-pointing tusk may be just a coincidence--"convergent evolution"--because in Narwhals, the tusk grows from a tooth on the left side, and in odobenocetops, the main tusk grows from a tooth on the right side. Plus, their tusks grow in opposite directions.<br>
Still, it's a remarkable animal.
Monday, May 23, 2016
The Narwhal and Beluga Whale are (somewhat) closely related species, similar in size, shape, and color (but not tusks.)
Narwhals live near the polar sea ice. Their tusks probably help them keep breathing holes open through the long arctic winters.
The narwhal and beluga should probably be actually called "dolphins," rather than whales. They are in the superfamily Delphinoidea, which contains dolphins, porpoises, belugas and narwhals.
Of course, dolphins (and all Delphinoideas) are themselves members of the "toothed whale" sub-order of whales, but one does not normally call a bottlenose dolphin a whale!
Here is a beluga:
I think it looks much more "dolphin" than whale. :)