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Interesting facts about whales that are often forgotten by people

by Sangam Adhikari

Whales are not fish, but mammals

This is actually quite simple, but there are still many members of the general public who don’t know it. Although whales have a body shape similar to fish, they are not fish. The main key that signifies whales are mammals and not fish is that whales breathe using the lungs and have the ability to breastfeed their offspring, whereas fish breed using spawning and do not produce milk at all.

The largest animal that has ever lived in all time is a member of the whale group

Dinosaurs, which are often regarded as giants, are still inferior to the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), which is the largest animal known to have lived on earth. Dinosaurs like Argentinosaurus may have been very large because of their length, but when it comes to body size, volume is the determinant. How big is the body size of a blue whale? The aorta (artery originating from the heart) of the blue whale is large enough that a 10-year-old child can enter it (if he does not die immersed in the blood of the whale).

Whales can be large because large predators such as Megalodon became extinct

The size of whales began to reach jumbo size about 2 million years ago, at the same time that large predators like Megalodon disappeared from the face of the earth. Megalodon itself can be large because the prey whales are also large. Why? How come this contradiction? You see, the presence of a predator can affect the body size of the prey and its predator, but the absence of a predator makes the body of the prey even bigger.

So initially the ancestors of Megalodon and the ancestors of whales that became their prey were not so large, but the ancestors of larger whales would be better able to withstand predators than standard sized ones. Then, to be able to prey on large prey, the ancestors of Megalodon also developed an enlarged body. In biology, the process of rivalry between prey and predators is called a biological arms race. Well, when it comes to the point where Megalodon is in power, a large number of whales can be controlled and small whales, which Megalodon does not glance at, actually triumph. Naturally, because not many people eat it. Now, when Megalodon disappears, large whales do not have predators that limit their body size, so large whales can maximize their body size potential in order to get the proportion of the amount of energy and optimal food coverage.

Megalodon may have had a rival to prey on whales with other whales

Yes! So Megalodon who is a whale predator has competed with other whales in whale hunting activities. The point is there has been a whale that has the same ecological role as Megalodon. Who is the whale? Its scientific name is Livyatan melvillei. Adapted from animals in the Torah of the same name, this whale has rows of teeth that can reach 30 cm in length. Imagine if even one of these teeth pierced your body. Oh, the shape of the teeth is also similar to ambon bananas.

The whale’s head is not as dense as you think

Do you know the whale above? The above whale is a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). The characteristic that can be observed from sperm whales is the size of their large heads. Don’t be fooled by appearances! They are not the most genius organisms ever. The size of his brain is not so spectacular compared to his body, but what causes his head to become large is not because of arrogance but because of melons.

Not! Not a fruit melon, but a melon which is an organ for echolocation, or navigation by voice. So, what about other whales like the bow head whale (Balaena mysticetus)? They are even more obvious.

The bowhead whale has a curved head like a bow so that the volume of raups it has is large. The size of the melon is not too large because the need for exclusion is not as important as that of the sperm whale.

Sperm whales dive every day to battle a giant squid

There is a reason why around the mouth of a sperm whale is adorned by scarring. Certainly not because they experienced a bitter romance experience. Do not think so. That’s because sperm whales often wrestle with giant squid in the deep sea because they like to prey on giant squid. Imagine, every day a sperm whale dives at a depth of 500 m to 2 km that is dark to prey on squid the size of a car. Although not the main food, body remains from giant squid are often found in sperm whale vomit. Imagine now, somewhere in the depths of the ocean, there is at least one battle between sperm whales and giant squid.

Sperm whale vomiting is very expensive, maybe more expensive than gold.

Remember in the topic above explained that the remains of giant squid bodies are often found in sperm whale vomit? Why does a sperm whale vomit the remains of a giant squid? Because of all parts of the body of a giant squid, only the beak can not be digested.

Because the beak is very sharp, to regurgitate it, sperm whales must coat the beak with a layer of bile. When it hardens, a layer of bile that has enveloped the beak to be removed is then vomited up. Now, when it was vomited up, this solid gall smells rotten. What do you expect from something that comes from the whale’s bowels? However, over time the solids become more fragrant when sliced. This solid is referred to as ambergris.

Ambergris is one of the staples in making many perfumes. So, there is a possibility that you use perfume using whale vomit as a basic ingredient. Because of its usefulness, one kilogram of ambergris can sometimes reach thousands of US dollars.

Killer whales are dolphins

Right, the so-called killer whale (Orcinus orca) is basically a dolphin. Not just any dolphin, but also the largest dolphin living today.

Dolphins are also whales

So I will make a rather complicated sentence. Killer whales are members of dolphins, which dolphins are members of whales. Can it be digested? Great!

The size range of whale groups is very extreme

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) which is the focus in the picture above, as we have discussed above, is the largest animal that has ever lived on earth. However, there are also whales that have a relatively mini body size, which when compared to blue whales, the scale becomes strange. Introduce, a species of dolphin called vaquita (Phocoena sinus).

Its size is only 1.4 meters, which makes my body bigger than a whale species in the world. Unfortunately vaquita is very endangered, with an estimated number of individuals still alive at 22, the maximum.

Unicorns in the real world are whales, not horses

The above is an illustration from Narwhal (Monodon monoceros). Narwhal is a whale that is closely related to beluga, who both live in the waters of the North Pole. This whale is unique in that the male develops a long horn which is a modification of its canine teeth. There is only one horn at a time. If one horn is released, the other canine teeth will grow into new horns. However, some individuals have the potential to develop abnormalities in which both canines grow into horns simultaneously.

The whale’s front fin is basically a modified hand

Behind the fish-like whale fins, there is a bone structure that has the exact same anatomy as the other Tetrapods (vertebrates besides fish). Biologically, the whale still has fingers, arms, elbows, and shoulders.

Whales also have legs and hair

Okay, this time it’s a bit complicated. When born, the whale does not have hind legs, but when it is still in the fetal stage, hind legs are still there.

An evolutionary proof that whales are descended from organisms that used to live on land and have four legs. As evidence that confirms that whales are mammals, whales still have hair even as adults. Okay, not all over his body, but in the form of a moustache.

Whales are closely related to hippos

Not specifically with hippos, but with the group Artiodactyla (even hoofed animals) as a whole. That is, groups of Artiodactyla such as hippos, pigs, cows, and giraffes have a common ancestor with groups of whales.

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