Narwhal Tusks – Big Tooth

Narwhal Tusks – Big Tooth Music Ambiance Narwhal song – CD 06.01.12-1 The sounds we’re listening to were produced by a Narwhal – an animal famous for its tusk. Over the years there’s been plenty of speculation on the purpose of that pointy appendage. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. So when you need a fresh perspective on a toothy subject who’re you gonna call? Dr. Martin Nweeia is a dentist in Sharon, Connecticut. “Narwhal are primarily an arctic whale, and it’s a relatively small whale. The male’s roughly around 15 feet, the female slightly smaller. And, of particular note is their teeth. Because the males tend to sport this tusk and the females typically don’t have the tusk. The tusk erupts anywhere from a year and a half to two years old. < And as an adult will reach, usually a full length of about 8 feet. The theories on the function of the tusk are about as variable as the investigators who've looked at it. And there have really been all sorts of things speculated; in fact, amongst the theories that are out there are things from poking holes in ice, hunting prey, using it as a thermometer, using it, in some ways for sexual display, for social hierarchy, and somehow males battling it out for the female seemed to be the themes that are recurring." Dr. Nweeia says all these theories about the narwhal's tusk sometimes lose track of one significant fact. "I'm faced with biologists who have made a lot of determinations by observation. And I don't know really how to remind them in a nice way that I'm a dentist! You know, and this is a tooth. And I might actually be the appropriate guy to give information about a tooth." In future programs, we'll sink out teeth into a whole new way of understanding narwhales. We'll hear more next time. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

Narwhal Tusks - Big Tooth

A fifteen-foot whale with an 8 foot-long tusk may sound like another fish story, but it's not!
Air Date:03/13/2012
Scientist:
Transcript:

Narwhal Tusks - Big Tooth Music Ambiance Narwhal song - CD 06.01.12-1 The sounds we're listening to were produced by a Narwhal - an animal famous for its tusk. Over the years there's been plenty of speculation on the purpose of that pointy appendage. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. So when you need a fresh perspective on a toothy subject who're you gonna call? Dr. Martin Nweeia is a dentist in Sharon, Connecticut. "Narwhal are primarily an arctic whale, and it's a relatively small whale. The male's roughly around 15 feet, the female slightly smaller. And, of particular note is their teeth. Because the males tend to sport this tusk and the females typically don't have the tusk. The tusk erupts anywhere from a year and a half to two years old. < And as an adult will reach, usually a full length of about 8 feet. The theories on the function of the tusk are about as variable as the investigators who've looked at it. And there have really been all sorts of things speculated; in fact, amongst the theories that are out there are things from poking holes in ice, hunting prey, using it as a thermometer, using it, in some ways for sexual display, for social hierarchy, and somehow males battling it out for the female seemed to be the themes that are recurring." Dr. Nweeia says all these theories about the narwhal's tusk sometimes lose track of one significant fact. "I'm faced with biologists who have made a lot of determinations by observation. And I don't know really how to remind them in a nice way that I'm a dentist! You know, and this is a tooth. And I might actually be the appropriate guy to give information about a tooth." In future programs, we'll sink out teeth into a whole new way of understanding narwhales. We'll hear more next time. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.