Subject: Re: Whales/Mammals

Robert Kenney (rkenney@gsosun1.gso.uri.edu)
Mon, 10 Nov 97 12:32:54 EST

At 11:48 11/10/97 -0500, you wrote:
>In answering a question of my daughter regarding mammals, I said that all
>mammals have hair.  When she asked about whales specifically, I said they
>have hair, but it's very fine.  Am I correct?
>
>Thanks for your help!!
>
It's actually just the opposite.  In those cetaceans where hair is still
present after birth, the hairs are relatively stiff and coarse.  They tend
to be found in about the same locations as whiskers on a dog or cat (called
vibrissae in technical terms) or facial hair in human.  In right whales they
are around the mouth, on the chin, and above the eyes; in humpbacks there is
one hair in the middle of each of the "bumps" on the head.  Each stiff hair
has a rich nerve supply at its base, and it is hypothesized that the hairs
have a tactile, sensory function like the vibrissae in other mammals.

Cheers,
Dr. Bob

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 | Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.               rkenney@gsosun1.gso.uri.edu |
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