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:12/15/2016)... , Dec. 15, 2016  There is much more ... or starting the engine. Continental will demonstrate the intelligence ... Las Vegas . Through the combination of the ... Entry) and biometric elements, the international technology company is ... personalization and authentication. "The integration of biometric ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Singulex, Inc., the ... Counting technology, entered into a license and supply agreement ... science. The agreement provides Singulex access to Thermo Scientific ... Europe is used to diagnose systemic bacterial ... States to aid in assessing the risk ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Dec. 7, 2016   Veridium , a ... appointment of new CEO James Stickland . ... decades of experience, has served in senior executive ... he specialized in expanding a pipeline of venture ... He most recently served as managing director of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... PLAINVIEW, N.Y. , Jan. 18, 2017 ... pathology services, announces the formation of an Executive Committee ... 2017 and beyond. John Cucci , ... been promoted from Director of Business Development to ... in 2015, Mr. Cucci served in senior sales leadership ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... 18, 2017   Boston Biomedical , an industry ... target cancer stemness pathways, will feature data from two ... the 2017 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from January ... Napabucasin is an orally-administered investigational agent designed ... Cancer stem cells (CSCs) possess the property of ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... , ... January 18, 2017 , ... ... Dr. Dante Leven successfully implanted SpineFrontier’s A-CIFT™ Solofuse-P™. The operation took place on ... Valley Stream, NY. The procedure was an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion on ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... ... ... from a new study are stating that if levels of the blood test called ... there is still remaining prostate cancer cells that are more likely to come back, spreading ... an indicator of whether a man’s prostate cancer is growing or not,” stated Dr. ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: