Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The fish that grows horns like a legendary unicorn

Despite the name "narwhals", it is actually part of the whales family. The strange appearance makes this species catch the attention of many people.

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This species, known in English as "narwhal", belongs to the narwhal family along with the white whale. However, white whales do not have horns like them. Unicorns live year-round in the cold Arctic regions. This is a place of extreme weather conditions with dense layers of sea ice during the 6 months of winter. Photo: WWF.
What attracts the most attention to the narwhal is the long horn. However, it's not actually a horn, but a fish's teeth. The narwhal is a toothed whale. However, their teeth are not actually located in the mouth. Photo: Time.
Only male narwhals have a long, straight tooth that protrudes from the left upper jaw about 1.8-3 m. Normally, the teeth of adult male fish are more than half their total body length (about 5 m). The teeth grow in a counter-clockwise spiral, like the legendary unicorn horn. Photo: Oceana.
In fact, in the past, the narwhal's tooth was also classified as rare. According to Earthsky, this is an item brought by the Vikings from the North Pole to Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East in the Middle East. Only the very rich can afford to own them. Even the throne of the king of Denmark in the 1600s was decorated with narwhal teeth. Photo: Wikimedia.
The long tooth of the narwhal does not play a big role in life. Females without long teeth still live as long as males. Many other theories about its uses such as breaking ice, "fighting" or sensing temperature, digging in the seabed... However, these theories have not really been proven. Photo: Reddit.
According to Earthsky, its main use is simply a sex trait. Like lions using their mane or peacocks using feathers, these whales use their long teeth to determine social hierarchy and compete for offspring. However, scientists have not yet provided specific documents on this. Photo: Natural World Safaris.
The narwhal is important to the economy and culture of indigenous communities in Greenland or Canada. Currently, this species is suffering from the effects of global warming. Another problem with narwhals is noise pollution due to their vocal communication. More and more shipping ships pass through the North Pole, making the sea noisier. Even so, at least for now, narwhals are still in the group of "least concern" about conservation status. Photo: Natural World Safaris.

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