Mar
24

How is the narwhal’s tusk like a human tooth?

Narwhals "tusking." Photo by Glenn Williams via Wikipedia Commons.

Narwhals “tusking.” Photo by Glenn Williams via Wikipedia Commons.

The narwhal tusk is the opposite of a human tooth, rigid in the center and surrounded by a flexible outer layer containing porous tubules. Scientists have long realized the signals a narwhal receives from the nerves in its spiral tusk—which is actually a wildly elongated tooth—provide critical information about its icy ocean environment.

Dentist to the rescue >

Questions come alive at the Smithsonian. Seriously Amazing.


Posted: 24 March 2014
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.