SCIENCE CATCHES UP TO MYTHTERY
Canadian scientists have confirmed what should have been obvious; Narwhals use their tusks to hunt, kill prey. In case you haven’t heard Narwhals, or “unicorns of the sea”, are whales that inhabit Arctic waters and are known for their most obvious physical trait; they have giant tusks. But until recently their obvious range of function has technically been a mystery. Science has finally made a catch when it comes to the mythtery of unicorns.
Recently, Fisheries and Oceans Canada researchers discovered that male narwhals work in groups to herd arctic cod, get close in proximity and then “hard tap” them with their tusks to stun them. Then they get to dine on their stunned and still living prey for a meal.
NARWHALS A RACE OF OCEANIC JACK THE RIPPERS
The narwhal’s tusk has long been a mystery to scientists. There have been hypotheses that the porous horn acts like a sensor. “Having all those nerves on the outside allows the whale to detect water pressure, temperature and salinity. It might even be able to detect barometric pressure when it’s above the water’s surface. However, if the tusk is so important to survival, why don’t females have one? We don’t know,” says How Stuff Works. So, at least there are a few obvious mysteries left, though females of many mammalian species tend to be better hunters, so perhaps the ladies simply don’t need the massive… horn.
GANGSTER SEA UNICORNS ARE NO MYTH
There have also been guesses that the tusk is used to duel and establish dominance or that it has to do with mating. However, none of those theories have actually been observed by scientists, which is why the above video depicting the narwhals using the tusks for food is so intriguing. Knowing how the tusks are used by the animals will also help scientists figure out how to better protect them from extinction.
Nature is so cool. Long live narwhals.