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:5/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and ... launched in Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots ... the USA . The technology was developed and patented ... the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment ... please click: ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... , April 24, 2017 Janice ... partner with  Identity Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , ... or without President Trump,s March 6, 2017 ... Entry , refugee vetting can be instilled with greater ... (Right now, all refugee applications are suspended by ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced Design and Manufacturing ... feature emerging and evolving technology through its 3D Printing ... run alongside the expo portion of the event and ... demonstrations focused on trending topics within 3D printing and ... manufacturing event will take place June 13-15, 2017 at the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... Arbor, MI (PRWEB) , ... September 19, 2017 ... ... testing laboratory, is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2017 Science Student ... achievement, exceptional leadership qualities, and involvement with community service defray the costs of ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... Department of Financial Services (NYS DFS) cybersecurity regulations have transitioned into ... and insurance organizations operating in the state (“Covered Entities”) to conduct an ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... Transportable ... biochar, briquettes, and torrefied wood is the topic of a September 27 ... the potential economic viability of transportable biomass conversion facilities for producing biochar, briquettes, ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... , Sept. 18, 2017   Montrium , a growing ... an exciting new partnership with a groundbreaking non-profit research organization, ... ... MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies for PTSD ... has recently granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to MDMA for the treatment ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: