Narwhal Tusk 244 cm Monodon Monoceros

Artic Waters

19th Century

Danish Cites License: 361018-D
Length 244 cm (96.25 in)

Monodon Monoceros is derived from the Greek, meaning "one tooth one horn", as the creature's most distinguishing feature is the elongated left incisor which can grow to a length of 3 metres; the body of the animal is 4 to 5 metres. As it is found in the male of the species and only very rarely in the female, the most commonly accepted theory for its existence was as a secondary sexual characteristic, possibly determining social rank as narwhals have been observed rubbing tusks together although rarely aggressively.

It is only quite recently, in 1995, that Martin Nweeia, a researcher at Harvard School of Dental Medicine answered the question of why the narwhal has an immensely long spiral tooth, he has now  discovered that there are 10,000,000 nerve connections running from the centre to the outer surface which can detect changes in water temperature, pressure and particle gradients which means that the narwhal can detect the salinity of the water and also the fish that they feed on.  This is a very surprising find since the animal lives in the freezing arctic waters and one would have thought that this sensitivity would produce extreme pain!
The narwhal tusk is unique in form and functional adaptation.

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