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

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.