Narwhal – a relative of the whale. What is the function of their huge tusk?

Narwhal - a relative of the whale.  What is the function of their huge tusk?

Narwhals, mammals that live in the waters of the Arctic zone, are equipped with a single, twisted tusk, growing from the upper, left jaw. Their function is to break up the ice cover in order to get air. Recent studies have also shown that the sensory function of the canine is more important – there are about 10 million nerve fibers in it. In this way, the narwhal can feel changes in temperature, pressure and the concentration of various chemical compounds in the water.

The twisted tusk in males can grow up to 3 meters in length. In females, the fangs are shorter, straighter and smoother.

Narwhal tusks – what are they needed for?

According to scientists, thanks to the fact that they have about 10 million nerve fibers in their tusks, it is easier for narwhals to hunt fish (tracking with scent marks) and to feel the degree of salinity of the body of water in which they are located. The tusk is also used as a weapon in the ready period – it is sometimes used for a ritual demonstration of strength.

Narwhal hunting

The data shows that hunting for narwhals has been unprofitable for a long time, which is why the strongly reduced population is rapidly recovering. Currently, it is estimated that the population of these mammals is about 80,000 individuals. However, Eskimos still hunt animals – not only for their fangs, but mainly for their skin, which is rich in nutrients.

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