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Narwhal tusk found to be sensor

科學家發現 獨角鯨的長牙為感應器

Narwhal tusk found to be sensor

The narwhal's mysterious spiral tusk works as a giant sensor to help it test water qualities and to smooch other narwhals, a U.S. researcher said yesterday.

一名美國研究人員昨日表示,獨角鯨神秘的螺旋狀長牙,其功用為感應器,用來幫助測量水質,並與其他獨角鯨相互接觸。

The whale's 2.4-meter long tusk has long mystified naturalists and hunters, and the explanation may be equally intriguing, Harvard School of Dental Medicine researcher Dr. Martin Nweeia said.

哈佛牙醫學院的研究員馬丁.恩維亞說:「長久以來,生物學家與獵捕者一直對獨角鯨其二點四公尺長的長牙感到百思不解,而且對其(長牙功能的)說明有可能也同樣困惑不已。」

The mammals are among the rarest of whales, usually 4 to 4.5 meters long, found mostly in the Arctic Ocean waters of Canada but as far east as Russia.

這種哺乳類動物(獨角鯨)是非常罕見的鯨類,約四到四點五公尺長,通常出沒在加拿大北極海域,東邊最遠到俄國。

Nweeia's team found that the narwhal tusk is like a membrane with an extremely sensitive surface. It has 10 million nerve connections to the outer surface that would be capable of detecting changes in water temperature, pressure, and salinity.

恩維亞的團隊發現,獨角鯨的長牙就像有一層感覺敏銳的膜,佈滿一千萬條神經,與外界接觸,能夠探測水溫變化、壓力與鹽分。

“There is no comparison in nature and certainly none more unique in tooth form, expression, and functional adaptation,”Harvard said in a statement.

哈佛大學研究人員在一份說明中指出:「自然界中,沒有什麼比得上這種牙齒構造、特性與功能的適應性,它是最獨特的。」

Anyone with sensitive teeth who has bitten into an ice cream would wince.

任何有敏感牙齒的的人都曾為冰淇淋所苦。

“Why would a tusk break the rules of normal development by expressing millions of sensory pathways that connect its nervous system to the frigid arctic environment?”Nweeia asked.“Such a finding is startling and indeed surprised all of us who discovered it.”

恩維亞提出疑問:「為什麼獨角鯨能夠打破常規,讓佈滿感覺神經的系統接觸嚴寒的極地氣候環境?這驚人的發現使我們大為驚訝。」

Nweeia's team also noted that narwhal males will rub tusks and said it was likely this provided the big animals with a “unique sensation.”

恩維亞的團隊也發現雄性獨角鯨會摩擦長牙,他們解釋這種舉動可能帶給獨角鯨某種“特別的感覺”。


Updated : 2021-01-21 20:41 GMT+08:00