Friday, May 7, 2010

Sponge Bob - A strange little Right Whale and his wrong-way mom.

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Date: Wed, 5 May 2010 17:37:01 -0300
From: Laurie Murison
Subject: Re: White Tail Deer query and right whales?

I realize right whales aren't deer but their evolutionary ancestry is  similar and right whales do have cornified tissue on their heads although  most patches or callosities relate to where many mammals have facial hair,  eyebrows, moustache and chin whiskers There are also post-blowhole  callosities which would be where horns would develop if they grew them.  Cetacean skulls have been highly modified with bones either lengthened or  shortened.  Foreheads are very much foreshortened and the only section that  might be called forehead is directly behind the blowholes.

To make a long story short, just as deer can sometimes have horns growing in  abnormal locations, a right whale was born a couple of years ago with  additional callosities on its back and side. I have fondly called this  whale "Sponge Bob" but the whale has not been officially named. To top it  off, the mother of this particular whale is an unusual mother in that when
she has a calf she heads south and took one calf to Texas in the Gulf of  Mexico and the calf in question was actually born in the late spring off  Cape Cod, unusual in itself, and they promptly migrated to Florida in July.  It was the back callosities on the calf that allowed researchers to  identify the mother and calf when in Florida because the photographs did not clearly show the head of the mother.

If anyone would like to see these strangely located callosities, go to where I have posted two.

Laurie Murison
Executive Director
Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
24 Route 776
Grand Manan, NB Canada E5G 1A1
506 662 3804, Fax 506 662 9804

Photo Credit: Laurie Murison

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