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Images: Fats In Whales' Heads May Help Them Hear

Maya Yamato began her research on whale hearing as a Summer Student Fellow in 2006. Now in her final year as a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, she is lead author of a new study that showed for the first time that baleen whales, like toothed whales, have fats leading to their ears. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A cross-section CT scan of a minke whale head shows fats associated with the mandibles (jaws) leading to its ears. (Maya Yamato, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The fats associated with minke whale ears (yellow) may efficiently transmit sound waves from the external environment to the ears (purple). (Maya Yamato, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)