The narwhal is one of the strangest, most fascinating animals in the entire ocean. The narwhal is the unicorn of the sea, found in Arctic coastal waters and rivers. Commonly thought to have one horn, these legendary animals in fact have two teeth. In males, the more prominent tooth grows into a swordlike, spiral tusk up to 8.8 feet long. This tusk tooth grows right through the narwhal’s upper lip. However, scientists are not sure what this legendary “horn” is used for. Many speculate it could be used for mating rituals, while others hypothesize that it may be used to fend off rivals. Female narwhals sometimes grow a tusk themselves, however it is much smaller than the male’s.
With the body of an orca and the horn-looking-tooth of a unicorn, it is easy to see narwhals as mythical creatures. However, narwhals are well known and are hunted by Inuit people for their long tusks and their skin, an important source of vitamin C in the traditional Arctic diet. The narwhal, which grows between 13 and 20 feet, belongs to the family Monodontidae. This family is comprised of only two species, the narwhal and the beluga whale. Both animals are listed as “Nearly Threatened” and live in the Arctic Ocean.
Discovery News Does A Very Factual Report On Narwhals
Kingdom: Animalia – Multicellular, heterotrophic, sexually reproducing, eukaryotic organisms.
Phylum: Chordata – Animals containing a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve chord, pharyngeal slits (embryonic gill slits), an endostyle (mucous producing gland in the pharynx), and a post-anal tail during fetal development and/or throughout their life cycle.
Class: Mammalia – Warm-blooded vertebrates with hair, three middle ear bones, a 4-chambered heart, a neocortex (outer layer of the brain enabling high-functioning sensory perception), and females with milk-producing mammary glands.
Order: Cetacea – Aquatic animals that have a spindle-shaped body, flippers, a hind tail with horizontal flukes, come up to the surface for air through their blowholes, and have eyes set on the sides of their head.
Suborder: Odontoceti –Toothed whales
Family: Monodontidae – Wide ranging carnivorous diet, and have few teeth.
Genus: Monodon – One tooth
Species: monoceros – One horn
Scientific Name: Monodon monoceros