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2018
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Narwhal

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NarwhalThe Narwhal skull in the foyer is a replica of a real Arctic whale. The tusk is an upper left incisor tooth that projects through the top lip. The right tooth is a tiny version. The asymmetry is similar to examples such as snake’s single lung, female birds’ single ovary, male Fiddler crabs single large claw and the two eyes on one side of the head of bottom dwelling flat fish such as halibut and flounder.

The function of the large tusk is still being debated. It is made of dentin that is the temperature sensitive part of our teeth. Some scientists think that it can be used to sense changes in sea temperature as they swim in northern seas.

A related fossil whale found on the west coast of Chile had two tusks of slightly different lengths. It may have been an ancestor of the Narwhale. It is called the Walrus whale as the two tusks project ventrally from the upper jaw. They may have used their tusks to dig for clams and other bottom dwelling organisms to eat.

There is now video footage of narwhals using their tusks.

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