[MARMAM] New publication on the sensory hairs of North Atlantic right whales

Marilyn Marx mmarx at neaq.org
Mon Feb 28 09:53:15 PST 2022

Dear MARMAM community,
On behalf of Christin Murphy and my other co-authors, I am pleased to announce our new publication in The Anatomical Record:

Murphy, C. T., Marx, M., Martin, W. N., Jiang, H., Lapseritis, J. M., French, A. N., Simmons, N. B., & Moore, M. J. (2022). Feeling for food: Can rostro-mental hair arrays sense hydrodynamic cues for foraging North Atlantic right whales? The Anatomical Record, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24858

North Atlantic right whales (NARWs; Eubalaena glacialis) possess an arrangement of fine hairs on the rostrum and chin that may be used for hydrodynamic sensing during feeding. These hairs occur across mysticete species and are known to possess adequate innervation in the subdermal follicle to support their consideration as sensory hairs (vibrissae). However, the small size of the hair structure with respect to the enormous scale of the animal's body has caused doubts regarding their utility and prompted speculation that the hairs may be vestigial or minimally functional. Here we show that NARW hairs occur in abundance on the leading surface of the head in a unique and characteristic arrangement. We consider the sensory hairs in context of the fluid environment in which this species forages and argue that the size of the hair is scaled to the size of the animal's small planktonic prey, thus suggesting that the hairs play an important role in the sensory ecology of these animals.

The article and associated videos are currently open access. If you have any questions, please contact Christin Murphy (christin.t.murphy.civ at us.navy.mil<mailto:christin.t.murphy.civ at us.navy.mil>) or me (mmarx at neaq.org<mailto:mmarx at neaq.org>).

Kind regards,

Marilyn K. Marx
Kraus Marine Mammal Conservation Program
Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life
New England Aquarium
Central Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

mmarx at neaq.org<mailto:mmarx at neaq.org>

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