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IN QVEST OF THE BOOKCS
A BOUT eight years ago an arrange- ment was made whereby all whales stranded on our coasts should be re- ported to the authorities at the British
Museum. As these reports come to us, instruc- tions are sent to the Coastguard to forward either the whole animal, the head and flippers, a few teeth, or a piece of ” whale-bone,” as the case may be. Sometimes, where it is clear that a rarity
THE “HALL- MARK” OF THE BEAKED WHALES: THE TEETH OF AN ADULT MALE CUVIER’S WHALE (ZIPHIUS CAVIRIOSTRIS) STRANDED AT FETHARD IN 1915.
has come to hand, one of the Museum staff is dis- patched to recover the whole animal, whatever its size. In this way a very considerable mass of information as to the migrations of these animals has been brought to light, and at the same time a very substantial addition to the collections has been made. It has shown, too, that species hitherto regarded as extremely rare are, after all, not infrequent visitors to our seas.
Among these rari- ties are the beaked whales known as Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius caviriostris) and Sowerbv’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens). These are near relations of the bottle – nosed whale (Hlvperoodon rostratus), which is frequently to be encountered off our western shores. Of these beaked whales there is one species which is excessively rare. This is Mesoplodon mirus, or True’s beaked whale. It was discovered no longer ago than 1912, when a female obtained at Beau- fortHarbour North Carolina, came into the hands of the
late Mr. W. F. True, who described it as a species new to science. It remained the only specimen of its kind on record until March last, when Dr. S. F. Harmer, the Keeper of Zoology and
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A NEW BRITISH WHALE. Director of the Bntish Museum of Natural Hlistory, announced the capture of an adult male, seventeen feet long, stranded at Liscannor, County Clare, in 1917; and the existence of yet a third specimen, taken some years ago on the Galway coast, and now in the Galway Museum. So
that there are but three re- corded examples of this won- derful animal. What may be called the ” hall-mark ” of these beaked whales is the presence of but a single pair of teeth, borne by the adult males only, in the lower jaw. In Sowerby’s whale these teeth project on each side of the middle of the mouth; while in the bottle-nosed and Hector’s beaked whale and in True’s beaked whale they pro- ject from the extreme end of the jaw. – But, though they are the only visible teeth, minute vestiges of teeth will be found on dissection along almost the whole length of the law. In certain fossil species of beaked whales these now-vestigial teeth were functional; but in them
a pair near the middle of the jaw and a pair at the end were conspicuously larger than the rest. In the rare Berardius these two pairs are both persistent, so that it-would seem the teeth of Sowerby’s whale answer to the hinder pair, while the anterior pair of True’s whale and Cuvier’s whale answer to the front pair. Why either pair should have survived one cannot say, since they have no apparent use. Layard’s beaked whale is a still more remarkable
MEASURING 1 FT. 10 IN.: A FEMALE SOWERBY’S WHALE (MESOPLODON BIDEVS) STRANDED AT THE FORT, ROSSLARE, CO. WEXFORD, ON SEPTEMBER 21, 1914. What may be called the ‘hall-mark’ of these beaked whales is the presence of but a single pair of teeth, borne by the adult males only, in the lower law. In Sowerby’s whale these teeth project on each side of the middle of the mouth.”
creature. For in this the pair of teeth answering to those of Sowerby’s whale grow upwards, until they meet one another above the upper jaw, thus making it impossible to open the mouth wider
OF SACRIPE – SCIENCtE1
than about halt-an-inch! Beaked hale feed mainly on squids, and the hllles troth of Cuvier’s and Sowerbv’s whale are com- monly scarred with the wounds inflicted
by the suckers which are borne on the arms ot these creatures. In the struggle which ensues heln the squll Is seized these arims teem to t fliing around the captor, and they do not relax their hold without leaving scars which may last a lifetime
1 EXPOSING THE TOOTH WHICH HAD AS YET NOT CUT THE GUM- THE DISSECTION OF THE END OF THE JAW OF AN IMMATURE CUVIER’S WHALE.
i once had the good fortune to see ,p hair of Cuvier’s whales alive This was some seven :ear, ago. when I was spending a week with one or two friends on the Great Saltee Island off the coast of Wexford. I was sitting on the top of the clitt and looking out to sea, when in the clear blue water in front of me appeared two strange-look- ing whales, which, from the striking whiteness of the forepart of the body, I at first took to
be l3elugas For some minutes they swam straight to wards me It is to be re- gretted that we have no photo- graph of True’s whale, for the speci- men recovered at Liscannor was too much damaged to make photography possible, so that we must wait for information as to the coloration of this animal. Our new whale, it is satisfactoryto note, is the only known male. The type of its species, from California, was a female. The sex of the Galway speci- men has not been recorded. Its range, from California to Great Britain. s
certainly remarkable; but not more so than that of its relative IMesoplodon Hlecklr, which is a British species and is taken also in New Zea- land waters. W P PVCRAlr