Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sexual Behavior of the Narwhal
Hi everyone, my name is Deanna and I am one of the sexy scientists. For my first blog post, I thought it was important to connect our blog title with a topic I found interesting. With that said, I decided to talk about the sexual behoviors of the narwhal. I chose the narwhal due to my love of the movie "Elf" and because the narwhal is a facinating creature. So to start, for those of you who do not know, a narwhal is a toothed whale that lives in the Artic ocean (close to the north pole; where Santa lives). But these creatures are easily identifiable due to their long, straight, spiral tusk protruding from the upper jaw.
The function of this spear-like projection is not clearly understood, however some theories include that it is used by males to determine social rank. It may also be a seconday sexual characteristic much like the feathers of a peacock, the horns of a goat, or facial hair on men. These characteristics are important when it come down to finding a mate. And apparently, for the male narwhal, the larger the tusk, the more likely he will win the battle over the right to a female. And the female narwhal does not want just ANY male. According to the "sexy son hypothesis" proposed by Weatherhead and Robertson (1979), the female's optimum choice among potential mates is a male whose genes will produce male offspring with the best chance of reproductive success (as does any woman).
Posted by Deanna