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Possible functions of the ultradense bone in the rostrum of Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)

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The rostrum of Blainville's beaked whale, Mesoplodon densirostris, becomes secondarily ossified, particularly in males, as individuals mature. This mesorostral ossification forms the densest bone currently known and represents a considerable investment of resources for this species. Three functions for this mesorostral ossification have been proposed: prevention of damage to the rostrum during aggressive male–male interactions, ballast to aid deep diving, and sound transmission. These functions were assessed using data from museum specimens and observations of this species in the wild. Prevention of damage to the rostrum during aggressive male–male interactions was found to be the most likely function, based on the currently available data.

Chez la Baleine-à-bec de Blainville, Mesoplodon densirostris, le rostre s'ossifie secondairement à mesure que les individus vieillissent, surtout chez les mâles. Cette ossification mésorostrale produit les os les plus denses que l'on connaisse et représente un investissement considérable de ressources pour ces animaux. Trois hypothèses ont été formulées pour expliquer cette ossification : elle prévient les dommages au rostre au cours des interactions agressives entre mâles, elle produit le lest nécessaire aux plongées en profondeur, enfin elle sert à la transmission des sons. Ces rôles potentiels ont été vérifiés à partir de données obtenues à l'étude de spécimens de musée et d'observations en nature. D'après les données disponibles, le rôle le plus probable de cette ossification importante est la prévention des blessures au rostre au cours des interactions agressives entre mâles.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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