fin whale asymmetry

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 15:09:36 EST

>Is the baleen on the right side of the fin whale white and the baleen on the
>left side dark? I have read conflicting information. For example, on the
>website it states "The
>baleen bristles are soft when compared with the Blue whale and vary from
>yellowish white to greyish white." On the website
> it states "The lower jaw is
>gray or black on the left side and creamy white on the right side. This
>asymmetrical coloration extends to the baleen plates as well, and is
>reversed on the tongue." I was approved by the Dept. of Commerce to receive
>baleen and have received a small piece of fin whale baleen to use in my
>presentations. I wanted to know some interesting things to tell the
>students and thought the contrasting colors would be interesting if this is
>actually true.
>Also, I am looking for a longer piece of baleen from any type of baleen
>whale to show in my presentations. I have a piece of humpback baleen about
>2 feet in length. Also, I am looking for a vertebrae of a bowhead. Do you
>know any contact people who might have what I am lookin for?

The pigmentation pattern on the face of the fin whale is uniquely
asymmetrical. The left lower jaw is dark grey. The right lower jaw is
white, but diatoms living on the skin can give the appearance of a
creamy yellow in some areas. The coloration of the baleen is also
asymmetrical. All of the left side baleen is dark. On the right side,
the anterior baleen (plates on the forward part of the palate) are
essentially white. Baleen is made of similar material to fingernails.

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