Whale of a mouth

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

John Heyning and James Mead from the American National Museum of Natural History in Washington, US, have analysed the eating habits of whales. They found that the female beaked whales or Ziphiidae are toothless, while the males have just one or two pairs of teeth. These whales can barely open their mouths; their big lips leave just a small opening at the end of the 'beak', making feeding even more difficult. It looks, says Mead, as if a pump-like retraction of the tongue and the distension of the throat creates a sudden drop in pressure, allowing beaked whales to suck in their prey (New Scientist, Vol 153, No 2067).

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