Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Thar She Blows!
I remember as a kid being entirely fascinated with narwhals. I'm not sure where I first heard about them - probably in some old sea yarn (I had an odd preference for adventure stories set way before my time) - but I do know that, until even recently, I wasn't even entirely sure they existed. Part whale, part unicorn - were they like the jackalope or the monopode - a mythical creature born of ignorance, imagination or purely for entertainment? They seemed too weird to be true.
Well, they are true, and some fascinating new things have been discovered about them. NPR had an interview with a scientist named Dr. Martin Nweeia, who has found that, contrary to popular belief, narwhals don't use their "horns" (actually teeth) to battle or poke holes in the ice so much as to sense minute changes in their surroundings. Then, the NY Times had a great article that further explored these new and amazing findings. There's even a web site on the research called, appropriately enough, narwhal.org.
Truth can be stranger than fiction. Nature is amazing. This may be even cooler than the giant squid!