Subject: Suborder Odontoceti and Mysticeti

Martine Berube (
Fri, 15 May 1998 14:19:08 +0200 (MET DST)

Dear Marla,
Mysticetes or baleen whales differs from Odontocetes or toothed whales, by
having baleen plates hanging down inside their mouth instead of teeth for
The baleen plates are made out of the same material of your finger nails
(keratin). The baleen plates are used by whales to filter their food out of
the ocean water.  The main food of baleen whales is krill (a shrimp-like
crustacean, about 2 inches long). They need to eat large amounts of it, so
they use the baleen to filter a large quantity of krill at a time.  Some of
the baleen whales will gulp tons of water containing krill, then they will
force the water out of their mouth through the baleen plates, leaving the
krill behind. 

The odontocetes or toothed whales such as the killer whales or beluga whales
have teeth. Toothed whales feed mainly of fish or squid, although the killer
whale have another item on their menu, warm-blooded animals. They will used
their teeth to capture their prey. 
I hope this will help you a bit,

At 12.16 PM 14-05-1998 -0700, you wrote:
>I need help with distinguing between cetaceans of the suborder
>Odontoceti and the suborder Mysticeti.  How do their diets differ, and
>how do their mouthparts differ to reflect their dietary preferences?
>Hope you can help me!
>Thank you.
Martine Berube
Unit of Evolutionary Genetics
Department of Molecular Biology
Free University of Brussels (ULB)
CP 244
Bld du Triomphe
B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 650 5427
Fax: +32 2 650 5421