Subject: Whale question (sperm whale 'bumps')

Robert Kenney (
Tue, 8 Dec 1998 17:43:16 -0500

At 10:49 12/8/98 -0600, you wrote:
>Dear Bob,
>    Do you know why the Sperm whales have bumps on their backs?
>Thank you,
>Students in Ms. Sands's Class

I'm presuming by "bumps on their backs" you mean the row of projections
(that look a little like the knuckles on your fist) along the top of the
tail from the dorsal fin to the flukes.  I've always assumed that they just
showed where the upper projections (which would be called neural spines) of
each of the vertebra were, but I've never really taken apart a sperm whale
to see if that was right.  By the way, sperm whales aren't the only species
with them - they also are seen in gray whales and humpback whales.

Dr. Bob

 | Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.              |
 | University of Rhode Island                                        |
 | Graduate School of Oceanography                                   |
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