Animals

Toothed Whales

Toothed whales are whales that belong to the suborder Odontoceti.

They are cetaceans.

The suborder Odontoceti also includes dolphins and porpoises.

Toothed whales are more closely related to dolphins and porpoises than they are to baleen whales.

Some people say that all odontocetes- including dolphins and porpoises - are toothed whales. They say that a dolphin or a porpoise is a kind of whale.

Young sperm whale.Toothed whales have teeth and are predators. They differ from baleen whales, which do not have teeth and feed by filtering small organisms through baleen plates in their mouths.

A toothed whale may eat large animals, such as squid. Its diet may also include fish, crustaceans or other animals.

The teeth in a toothed whale's mouth are cone-shaped. Toothed whales use their teeth for gripping and tearing, not for chewing.

Toothed whales are usually smaller than baleen whales and move more quickly than baleen whales.

The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is unusually large for a toothed whale. A male sperm whale can grow to be 60 feet long and weigh as much as 45 tons. The sperm whale is the largest living animal with teeth on Earth.

While baleen whales tend to be solitary, toothed whales are social animals. They live in groups and often hunt cooperatively. Sperm whales live in groups that can contain more than 50 individuals.

Toothed whales navigate by means of echolocation. They create a "picture" of their environment by making short clicking sounds and measuring the amount of time it takes the echoes to return to them after bouncing off objects. Toothed whales use echolocation to help them hunt.

An organ on a the head of a toothed whale, which is known as a melon, is used to focus sound waves. The melon is made of fatty tissue.

Toothed whales have skulls and faces that are asymmetric. This feature is believed to help with echolocation.

A toothed whale has one blowhole (nasal opening). In comparison, a baleen whales has two blowholes.

Excluding dolphins and porpoises, the toothed whales that live on Earth today are:

  • the sperm whale
  • the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima)
  • the pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps)
  • the beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), sometimes known as the sea canary or the white whale
  • the narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
  • the beaked whales (family Ziphiidae)