Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dentists discover secret of narwhal's tusk link

This species of whale has an unusual and mysterious long horn, once harvested and sold as a unicorn horn for ten times its weight in gold

From CBC

Scientists in the United States have discovered the secret of the
narwhal's long tusk, which they say is something unique in the animal world.
Researchers working in Canadian Arctic with the sea mammal say the tusk is actually a sensory probe delivering information to the animal in a distinctive way.

The narwhal's tusk, a 1.5-metre-long tooth emerging from the left side of the upper jaw, has long been a source of fascination. Its spiral nature led to it being marketed for princely sums in medieval Europe as a unicorn's horn.

In the past the tusk has been judged a weapon, a mating display and a fishing spear.

It turns out, the truth is stranger than the fiction.

Scientists studying the animal in Canada's Arctic have found that more than 10 million tiny nerve connections tunnel their way from the tusk's core to its outer surface.

These give the tusk an extremely sensitive surface, capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure and particle gradients, scientists say. It also allows the whales to detect water particles characteristic of the fish that constitute their diet.

And when Narwhals display "tusking" behaviour, or rub tusks, they're likely experiencing a unique sensation, say scientists.

The researchers say there is no other animal with a comparable ability in nature, and certainly no comparable tooth with that kind of functional adaptation.

"Now that we know the sensory capabilities of the tusk, we can design new experiments to describe some of the unique and unexplained behaviours of this elusive and extraordinary whale," said
Martin Nweeia of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston.

The research into the nature and function of the narwhal's tooth may also lead dental researchers to develop better materials for tooth restoration in humans, says Nweeia.

The research was partly funded by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The findings were presented Tuesday at the
Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Diego.



At January 30, 2012 at 4:27 AM , Blogger cherry said...

They're a unique specie but could be endangered. At least they were able to discover some remedy.

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At February 20, 2012 at 7:06 AM , Blogger Yvette said...

Who would have thought that dentists could make such a scientific breakthrough?

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At February 28, 2012 at 8:09 AM , Blogger Megan said...

Thank goodness there are dental SEO marketing services. Not all dentists are tech-savvy. Still, they made such a surprising discovery!

At March 19, 2012 at 6:30 AM , Blogger John Stevenson said...

Ingenious discovery! Even they are only dentist they still think outside the box , dentist are really awesome and I heard that dentist Bondi Junction dental implants does incredible dental implants.

At March 23, 2012 at 10:46 AM , Blogger Alexis Preatori said...

So they need healthy teeth too? Don't they have strong teeth already ever since they were born?liberty mo dentist

At April 13, 2012 at 5:12 AM , Blogger Janeth Winslet O. Connor said...

Definitely, this is a breakthrough discovery that can help Las Vegas dentists find more ways to protect human teeth. Kudos!

At April 13, 2012 at 8:58 AM , Blogger Mitch Mckinley said...

Wow! It is indeed a breakthrough. This discovery can benefit cosmetic dentistry Plano TX experts as well.

At April 13, 2012 at 11:01 AM , Blogger Djonni Smith said...

Amazing! I will share this to our dentist in Moncks Corner.

At April 13, 2012 at 12:06 PM , OpenID ashleymorrey32 said...

I have heard this story from my Marietta dentist. According to him, this discovery can lead to advanced dental treatments and ways to strengthen human teeth.

At April 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM , Blogger Lanielle Bernadette Smith said...

This discovery could help Broomall cosmetic dentist and other dental experts on finding new treatments and procedures.

At April 24, 2012 at 9:37 AM , Blogger rain said...

The nerve endings make an appropriate function for the tusk. At least now it's explained.

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At May 2, 2012 at 7:37 PM , Blogger Stew said...

It didn't categorically state how those tusks function to reveal those sensory sensations so the explanation is rather blurred. Although it's kind of tempting to believe these new claims, it is still better to have had a quantitave analysis to present gathered evidences of such.
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At May 15, 2012 at 4:30 AM , Blogger Mrs. Mandy Catez said...

This is really a great breakthrough especially now that they have scientific proof.
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At May 23, 2012 at 7:33 AM , Blogger Xander Lawson said...

And here I was thinking that the tusk was either for show or used as a giant spear. Good point though Stew. They didn't really explain the sensory mechanics behind the tusk.

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At May 28, 2012 at 8:05 PM , Blogger Mathew Perkins said...

Animals do deserve to clean their teeth's too. Scientist can figure it out on how to strengthen teeth by trying some chemicals or stuff.

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At June 13, 2012 at 8:40 PM , Blogger Dreatori Alexis said...

I never knew that even dentists have interest in narwhals tusk. It isn't considered as a tooth right? This isn't what dentist in marietta ga thought me.

At June 15, 2012 at 9:14 PM , Blogger Josh Schwartz said...

I'm sure collierville dentists could also make such a scientific breakthrough like this.

At August 28, 2012 at 6:31 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

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At November 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM , Blogger Dominic Duncan said...

My dentist in North Hollywood is also doing some research about the history of ancient people's fossil that focuses on how do people from the old times are able to perform various tooth operation which concerns the need of surgical instruments and such. So, I guess, a discovery of this kind especially for a man who has been in the science field is not really surprising it is just normal for them to be fascinated on this kind of things.

At December 5, 2012 at 2:03 PM , Blogger Caiytlin Perry said...

It only proves that scientists are not only the ones who can do new research and breakthroughs. There are also other people like the new york cosmetic dentist who can discover new scientific breakthroughs.

At December 20, 2012 at 8:08 PM , Blogger Kendrick Blake said...

I know a dentist longview tx who is also engaging himself to some paleontology or anthropology-related study as of the moment. He said that sometimes you'll really discover some interesting things that will bring fascination to your system.

At February 4, 2013 at 3:38 AM , Blogger Michelle Helena Cabrera said...

My uncle who works in a dental laboratory is also against the usage of animals' tusks for human teeth restoration. I'm also against this animal abuse, specially when dealing with an endangered species. Tusks are for animals; human teeth are for humans. Leave them alone.

At February 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Hugh Parizeau said...

There are so many ways of promoting good oral health. Instead of using animal parts, thorough campaign on taking good care of our teeth to everyone is still the best way. This is what all the dentists do at cosmetic dentistry perth clinic.

At February 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM , Blogger Andelka Bucklie said...

Can they do dental implants Perthfor whales? I wonder why these groups of dentist are the one who observe these whales instead of scientists.

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At September 2, 2014 at 5:54 PM , Blogger Jake Andersen, DMD said...

So that unicorn horn I bought is just a Narwhal tooth? bummer

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