Strap-toothed Beaked Whale


Strap-toothed Beaked Whale

Famiy: Ziphiidae
Genus: Mesoplodon
Species: M. layardii   (Gray, 1865)

The bizarre teeth of the strap-toothed whale must be among the most unusual of the animal kingdom’s dental structures. In the male two teeth grow up and over the rostrum, with small, sharp denticles at their apexes.

Physical Description: The body is stocky with a small, wide, tapering head.

Color: One stranded specimen was found to be dark purple to black all over, with a white rostrum, and white ventrally from the chin to the anus. The body is often heavily scarred, probably from parasites, bacteria, and fighting with others of its species.

Fins and Flukes: A small, falcate dorsal fin is located well to the rear of the mid-back region. Small, thin flippers are rounded at their tips. Well-developed flukes are apparently pointed at the tips, with no median notch.

Length and Weight: These animals reach a length of at least 20 ft (6 m).

Teeth: A pair of teeth, long and flat, is located about one-third of the way back from the point of the lower jaw. No teeth are found in the upper jaw. In the male, the two teeth grow out as the animal matures, eventually wrapping around the upper jaw.

Feeding: No information, but presumably squid.

Breathing and Diving: These animals dive for between10 to 15 minutes.

Mating and Breeding: A female stranded in New Zealand in the month of September had just given birth.

Herding: They occur in small family groups with all sizes represented.

Distribution: South Africa, southern Australia, New Zealand, Falkland Islands, Tasmania, Uruguay, and Tierra del Fuego.

Migration: No information available.

Natural History Notes: They are usually shy of all ship traffic.


Strap-toothed Whale Map

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