I've heard that narwals can grow their tusks up to 16 ft long. What do they need the tusk for? Hunting? Comunication?

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    $\begingroup$ Probably for male mate competition, but nobody knows really. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Feb 21, 2015 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


The evidence shows that the tusk is innervated, and acts as a sensory organ to the outside environment, as well as a mating tool.

Sensory ability in the narwhal tooth organ system

  • $\begingroup$ Nice finding, this paper will help a lot I guess! If it is an sensor organ, I'd be curious to hear more about why it is present only in males. Would be great if someone could make a short summary of the different hypotheses of how this organ evolved. In the abstract of the paper you linked, they also say New findings of sexual foraging divergence [..] add to the discussion of the functional significance of the narwhal tusk. So, it seems that this organ may also eventually be involved in foraging behaviour. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Feb 22, 2015 at 2:53

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