The term "baleen whale" refers to cetaceans in the suborder Mysticeti. Baleen whales are notable as the globe's most massive creatures. The group consists of 12 species. Baleen whales have no teeth, in contrast to whales of the order Odontoceti.
Teeth in History
Baleen whales lack the enamelysin gene. This gene is essential for enamel development. Baleen whales haven't carried this gene for at least the last 25 million years. Although baleen whales don't have teeth, their ancestors long ago did have them.
These big whales never grow teeth, but they do have tooth buds when they're embryos. Although these tooth buds sprout up temporarily, they vanish before these guys are born.
Baleen Plates Instead of Teeth
Baleen makes up for these whales' lack of teeth. Their mouths feature keratin baleen plates. Keratin is totally different than teeth, and it's a component of body parts such as hair. Filter feeding is the eating style of baleen whales. The baleen plates dangling in the creatures' jaws separate sustenance from lots and lots of H20, essentially seizing it with their wee hairs. "Whalebone" is another common name for baleen. Baleen is simultaneously rigid and pliant.
Basic Diet of Baleen Whales
Although baleen whales are huge, they feed mostly on little prey animals. Some common elements of the baleen whale diet are krill, plankton, pollack and baitfish. Baleen is extremely convenient for these purposes. Its sturdy plates are capable of latching onto things that are mere centimeters in length.
Kinds of Baleen Whales
The baleen whale world includes many famed species, notably blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), the largest animals of all time. Gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus), sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis), Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are also part of this toothless group.
- EcoKids: Baleen Whales
- Aquarium of the Pacific: Baleen Whales vs. Toothed Whales
- University of California Museum of Paleontology: Introduction to the Cetacea
- National Marine Mammal Laboratory: What Should I Know About Baleen Whales?
- SeaWorld: Baleen Whales
- The New York Times Science: Blue Whales With Pearly Whites, Once Upon a Time
- Whale Trust: Baleen Whales
- University of California, Berkeley: Understanding Evolution
- Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images