Liv Francis-Pape reports on Newcastle University's breakthough 3D printing of corneas.Written by Liv Francis-Pape on 18th June 2018
Creature Feature: Narwhal
Often dubbed as the “unicorn of the ocean”, the Narwhal is an extremely rare and fascinating whale, with a prehistoric tusk that resembles something from a fairytale. Ellen Daugherty reports
“scientists are still unsure of the purpose of this behaviour, and it could range from aggressive male fighting to a simple act of friendliness
Male competition can be seen in the ‘tusking’ behaviour that they display, which has been observed above and below water. It involves the males crossing tusks, much like in a sword fight. However, scientists are still unsure of the purpose of this behaviour, and it could range from aggressive male fighting to a simple act of friendliness. It is clear more research is needed about the sexual importance of the narwhal tusk.
Collective noun: Blessing (same as a unicorn’s)
Aside from being a large, extended tooth, the narwhal tusk also has sensory capabilities. Unlike the rest of its teeth, its horn is not protected by a layer of enamel, making it very sensitive. This allows the narwhals to sense any changes in the chemical balance in the water, which can lead them to food, or to females that are ready to mate as they can sense the release of their pheromones. The narwhal uses its extended to tooth to perceive its surrounding environment, which can be sensed through the hundreds of nerves that end in the tusk.
“More needs to be done to stop ivory poachers, on land and sea, from harming these magnificent species
These impressive creatures are labelled as ‘nearly threatened’ by IUCN, as they often face the same threats as elephants and rhinos, being susceptible to the ivory industry. More needs to be done to stop ivory poachers, on land and sea, from harming these magnificent species.