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Whale CT

Inside a Whale's Head

Scientists have long known that dolphins and other toothed whales, which use echolocation to find prey, have specialized fats associated with their jaw that help convey sound waves from the ocean to their ears. Until now, however, the hearing systems of toothless baleen whales, remained a mystery. MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student Maya Yamato investigated this question using the Computerized Scanning and Imaging Facility at WHOI, the first successful study of intact baleen whale head anatomy with advanced imaging techniques. Yamato showed for the first time that baleen whales, like this minke whale, also have fats (yellow) associated with their mandibles (jaws) leading to their ears (purple). (Image courtesy of Maya Yamato, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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