I was reading about whales and wondered why did only narwhals, among all other species of whales, evolve to have tusks? Is there a specific environmental reason, for example something unique about the Arctic environment that requires them to have a tusk for easier survival?

I researched a bit and found many reasons why narwhals have tusks (e.g. weapons for fighting other male narwhals to compete for mates, sensing the environment, attracting female narwhals, echolocation, stunning prey for easier hunting) but couldn’t find a reason why other whales do not have tusks.

Sources: https://www.google.com/amp/s/api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/news/2017/05/drone-footage-narwhal-tusk-mystery




  • $\begingroup$ Can you tell us more about what you found out? google.com/… "Why not others?" would have to do with differences in selective pressures (operational sex ratios, ecological context, etc.) between ancestors of narwhals and their closest relatives ... $\endgroup$
    – Ben Bolker
    Sep 20 '20 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @BenBolker Thanks for the answer! Edited accordingly, is this better? $\endgroup$
    – DanPar
    Sep 20 '20 at 23:23

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