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Narwhal

Narwhal
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Cetacea
Family:Monodontidae[?]
Genus:Monodon
Species:monceros
Binomial name
Monodon monoceros

The Narwhal Monodon monoceros is an Arctic species of cetacean (Monodon monoceros) similar in size and shape to a dolphin. It is rarely found south of latitude 70N. It is related to the Beluga, and possibly also to the Irrawaddy Dolphin[?].

This small whale is some 4-5m long, excluding the tusk, generally pale with speckled upperparts. Male Narwhals have a single, long, straight tusk projecting from the left side of their jaws, with a left to right spiralled ridge. The tusk is up to 2.5m long. Males use their tusks for jousting to establish a social hierarchy. One in 500 males has two tusks.

These are quick, active mammals which feed mainly on squid.

The main predators are Polar Bears, Killer Whales and Walruses. Some Inuits hunt this species. In Greenland, traditional hunting methods are used, but high-speed boats and rifles are ferequently used in northern Canada.

Narwhal tusks were often passed off as Unicorn horns and believed to have the power to neutralise poison and to heal.



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