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Thread: Whale nostrils evolution?

  1. #1 Whale nostrils evolution? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    I have a hard time understanding how whale and dolphins came to have nostrils so much on top of their heads. I cant see why its so much of an advatage and if it is why havent seals etc do not also have this feature?

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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    New Zealand
    Seals and cetaceans do not swim the same way. Cetaceans tend to swim more directly, with curved up and down pathways. They seldom stop swimming, and being able to simply lift the top of their heads to breath works for them.

    Seals are far more 'erratic' in their swimming style. They can swim dolphin-like at need, but also spend a lot of time almost in the same place. An animal that is unmoving in the water can lift the tip of its nose up to breath very effectively, as opposed to an animal swimming forward that does better with the top of its head periodically clear of the water.

    I have even seen seals sleeping, upside down. They hang, tail up at the surface, and head vertically down - utterly still.

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  4. #3  
    Moderator Moderator
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    Apr 2007
    Washington State
    Seals don't live completely in water, spending most of the younger hears resting on beaches. .

    Here's a good article about the evolution of the blowhole.
    Whale evolution: The blowhole - The Panda's Thumb
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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  5. #4  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Thanks guys.

    skeptic: Good points.

    Lynx_Fox: great link. Its interesting to see the early stage of the embryo development was probably closer in some respects to the early stages of the animal's evolution (start with nostrils in typical emplacement then the mouth gradually grows so that the nostrils gradually indirectly become farther and farther from the tip).

    Maybe there was a combination of advantages to both having nostrils higher and some sort of larger-mouth-and/or-forward related advantage.
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