~ The Narwhal ~

It is thought that the tusk of the Narwhal is the source of the unicorn myths. The tusk is actually a tooth. Narwhals have two teeth both in the upper jaw. In females they rarely erupt, but in males the left tooth erupts, penetrating the upper beak, and spirals out up to 10 feet in length. The tusk is mainly used for display when competing for females. The scratch marks on the heads of many males may be battle scars of past sparring matches with rival males. The Narwhal tusk is mostly hollow and an estimated 1 in 3 tusks is broken.

The Narwhal is in the same family as the Beluga, known as "white whales" or Monodontidae. This family of animals are considered whales by some and dolphins by others. They do have many characteristics of larger dolphins, but also qualify as a separate family of toothed whales.

Females and calves normally live away from the males in separate groups, and without the tusk are sometimes mistaken for Belugas. Males average 13 to 20 feet in length (not including the tusk), females average 11 to 16 feet in length. Narwhals sometimes turn whiter with age, but most are considerably darker and splotchy colored. Narwhals have a slight hump instead of a dorsal fin and distinctive flukes with convex trailing edges that make the flukes appear to be on backwards.

Narwhals have been hunted for centuries by European and Inuit peoples, and today they are still hunted in Northern Canada and Greenland.


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