via – sudan vision
Scientists Find New Sensory Organ in Whales
Biologists on Wednesday reported they had discovered a new sensory organ on blue, humpback, minke and fin whales that helps explain why these mammals are so huge.
In a study appearing in the journal Nature, researchers in the United States and Canada said the organ is located at the tip of the whale’s chin, in a niche of fibrous tissue that connects the lower jaw bones.
Comprising a node of nerves, the organ orchestrates dramatic changes in jaw position that are essential for “lunge” feeding by the rorqual family of whales, Earth’s biggest vertebrates.
These whales plunge into banks of krill, gulping up tonnes of water at one go and filtering it in seconds to get the tiny crustaceans needed for food.
A 50-tonne fin whale, the second-longest whale on the planet, can swoosh through 80 tonnes of water in one operation, netting 10 kilos (22 pounds) of krill in the process.
The lunge requires “hyper-expandable” throat pleats, a Y-shaped cartilage structure connecting the chin and a lower jaw, made of two separate bones that move independently.
“In terms of evolution, the innovation of this sensory organ has …”
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