HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Scientists solve mystery of the 'unicorn' whale

Once the subject of mythical accounts of magical power, the helix-shaped tusk of the narwhal, or "unicorn" whale has proved to be an extraordinary sensory organ, according to a team of researchers from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Paffenbarger Research Center of the American Dental Association Foundation (ADAF) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The team's results were presented Dec. 13 at a technical conference in San Diego.

Measuring up to 2.7 meters or about 9 feet long, the tusk is traversed by up to 10 million nerve pathways. These pathways connect the outside of the tusk to a central core of nerves leading to the animal's brain. Based on experiments with samples of the tusk as well as with a captured narwhal whale, the research team found that the tusk's sensory system may be capable of detecting changes in temperature, pressure, salinity and other factors that may help a narwhal survive its Arctic environment.

Working at NIST, Naomi Eidelman, Anthony Giuseppetti and Frederick Eichmiller of the ADAF examined samples of narwhal tusk with both infrared microspectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Their work revealed the tusk's unusual structure.

While most mammalian teeth are softer on the inside and harder on the outside, narwhal tusk appears to be made "inside out," says Eichmiller. The researchers believe the softer outer layers of the tusk may act like a shock absorber to help prevent breaks.


'"/>

Contact: Mark Bello
mark.bello@nist.gov
301-975-3776
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
22-Dec-2005


Page: 1

Related biology news :

1. Scientists show that mitochondrial DNA variants are linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes
2. Scientists prove that disputed Korean stem cell line comes from an unfertilized egg and not cloning
3. Scientists move closer to bio-engineered bladders
4. Scientists find stem cell switch
5. Scientists discover new way to study nanostructures
6. Scientists a step closer to understanding how anaesthetics work in the brain
7. Scientists to make news at Computational Biology Conference
8. Accident-prone? Scientists link brain function to knee injuries
9. Scientists take next step in understanding potential target for ovarian cancer treatment
10. Scientists find brown fat master switch
11. Scientists identify 2 distinct Parkinsons networks

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/8/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... point. Driven largely by the confluence of organizations, ... users, distaste for knowledge-based systems (password and challenge ... consumer, industrial, and government systems. The market is ... been a demarcation between consumer and enterprise uses ...
(Date:2/6/2017)... 2017 According to Acuity Market Intelligence, ... authorities to continue to embrace biometric and digital ... Automated Border Control (ABC) eGates and 1436 Automated ... than 163 ports of entry across the globe. ... a combined CAGR of 37%. APC Kiosks reached ...
(Date:2/2/2017)... -- Central to its deep commitment to honor the ... Prize Foundation today announced the laureates of the ... in their respective fields of Life Sciences and ... recognized with the 2017 Japan Prize for original ... the advancement of science and technology, but also ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... BellBrook Labs is formalizing a significant ... of biochemical analyses critical for Lead Discovery. The company’s Lead Discovery Services ... including inhibitor potency and selectivity, mechanism of action, and inhibitor residence times on ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017  MIODx announced today ... two key immunotherapy technologies from the University of ... a method to monitor a patient for response ... and CTLA-4.  The second license extends the technology ... is likely to have an immune-related adverse event ...
(Date:2/23/2017)...  Seattle,s upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, with its swanky shops, parks ... head lice treatment salon to set up shop. But there,s ... a French bistro on E Madison Ave, and CEO ... old lice clinic, we pride ourselves on being a destination ... of the stigma associated with lice. Everyone can get lice ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... (FDA) de novo clearance to begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the Brain Sentinel® ... adults at home or in healthcare facilities during periods of rest. A lightweight, ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: