[MARMAM] Beaked whale Question

Phil Coles Phil at parthenonentertainment.com
Tue Apr 18 02:36:12 PDT 2006


Dear All,

We received an email at the beaked whale resource from a dentist with a specialist question; he is asking for more information on the growth pattern of beaked whales teeth. I have provided what information I can, but perhaps there is somebody considering this matter in more detail? His email is below. If there is anyone who can offer him further information on this subject perhaps you could email either him directly at HCBrowne1 at aol.com or myself at gerenuk at tiscali.co.uk 

Many thanks

Phil Coles

----- Original Message ----- 
From: HCBrowne1 at aol.com 
To: info at beakedwhaleresource.com 
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 10:35 PM
Subject: Dental anatomy of beaked whales

Dear Sir,
 
If you have the time, I would be very grateful to know whether any work has been done into the dental tissues of beaked whales.
 
I am a dentist with a passing interest in Comparative Dental Anatomy.  We had to study Comparative Anatomy during the B.D.S. undergraduate course at university.  At the time, I "earmarked" the subject as one to which I would like to return one day.  As I am in my 50s now, and retirement draws nearer, my thoughts return to this subject.
 
Yesterday, in rather a hurry, I was interested to see a dry skull of a beaked whale in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.  I was fascinated to see the two very prominent teeth in the anterior part of the mandible, which I assume are canines.  I remember studying the Narwhal tusk, which is a canine tooth, and I assume that the Narwhals and the Beaked Whales must be fairly closely related.
 
What really interested me was the obvious wear at the tip of the teeth.  If these were normal teeth of a carnivore, it would seem that there has been wear of the outer layer, which would be enamel, exposing the softer dentine below.  However, seeing that the tips of the teeth were sharpened points, it would appear that the underlying tissue seems more wear resistant than the outer layer.  I cannot work out how these teeth remained in the shape of sharpened points.
 
I intend to return to the National Museum when I have more time to have a closer look at this specimen.  However, if you know of any investigations of the dental tissues that have been carried out, or whether there are any x-rays of the jaws, showing the roots of the teeth, I would be very grateful to know.
 
With best wishes,
 
H. Christopher Browne
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