Drhoz! (drhoz) wrote in wtf_nature,

Lanyard's Strap-Toothed Whale

Given the recent wtf posts about the Montauk Monster, and the Monster iof Troy, and interesting news I got elsewhere about Australian Snubfin Dolphins ( aka 'Snubbies' ), I offer you a tribute of data about mysterious skulls, dead stuff washed up, and dolphins - in the form of the mysterious and rarely seen Mesoplodon lanyardii or Strap-toothed Whale.

This is the best-observed species of Beaked Whale, and even for this one the natural state is most often 'decomposing'. Some Beaked Whales are so wary of boats that they've never been seen alive, and the genus - the largest genus of ceteceans - remains the most poorly known group of large mammals today - two new species were discovered in the last 10 years, for example. Dead, admittedly.

The Strap-toothed is fairly typical in anatomy, if certainly on the large size for one of these dolphins - an adult can be up to 6.1 meters long. Adult males also enjoy another, very odd, feature - a pair of tusks that curl back and around the beak, preventing him from opening his mouth more than a few centimeters. Indeed, Lanyard's Beaked Whale lacks any other functional teeth.

Predictably, this appears to be a duelling weapon.

Not being able to open wide might frustrate cetacean dentists, but doesn't seem to limit the Strap-Toothed's ability to catch food, or even the size of the squid and deep-sea fish they can catch compared to their mates, so it seems certain they're suction feeders - stunning the squid with a sonar blast, then sucking it into the mouth.
Tags: deep sea, dolphin, mammal, marine life, sea life, tusks, whale
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