Unicorn of the sea chaser (for Chase No Face)

For those troubled by Chase No Face, the good-natured but facially disfigured kitty (link to potentially disturbing post), here's an interesting unicorn chaser about the unicorn of the sea, the narwhal. National Geographic got dentist Martin Nweeia up to the Arctic to look into the male narwhal's left tooth, which forms a unicorn-like tusk. In the video above, he examines a narwhal tusk up close and discusses its function. Note: If you are squeamish about seeing someone get dental work, you might need to skip this one, too, ya big wimp. (Video link, via National Geographic's Wild Chronicles)


  1. Oh god, oh god. What’s wrong with its face? What is that thing sticking out of it?

    :) Much obliged for the unicorn chaser. I heart narwhals.

  2. “bye Buddy, hope you find your dad”

    those horns look magical we should take them and sell them!

    1. +1 for the Elf ref.

      Interesting narwhal facts:
      They only live above the Arctic Circle.
      Never overfished, as they are small for whales.
      One of the thrones of Denmark is made of narwhal tusks, and there exists a four-poster bed somewhere in Britain with four said tusks for posts.
      They can grow as long as three metres/nine feet +.
      There are only about 150 narwhal tusks in the continental US, and trade is heavily regulated by the Committee for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Any now sold in the US must be proven to have been ‘harvested’ before 1972, I think, or perhaps certifiable antiques.
      On rare occasion, a narwhal can have two tusks, but one will be larger than the other.

      Do love me some Monodon Monoceros….

      1. “They can grow as long as three metres/nine feet +.”

        To clarify, that would be the tusks themselves, rather than the whole beastie…

  3. So he’s got this complicated story about how the tooth is a sensor that tells the animal about its environment, where fish might be, salinity, temperature, etc. But he doesn’t address the fact that only males have the big tooth. He’s going to have to work much harder to convince me the tooth isn’t the result sexual selection.

    1. Mayhap there’s something even more social going on–say, the males lead the migrations, so a female would be drawn to a male that has an impressive tusk over one that’s wandering around aimlessly because it’s tusk isn’t sensitive enough?

      That… just sounds wrong. But also kind of right.

  4. FWIW, Maggie has already pointed out that the narwhal and the unicorn are actually mortal enemies. Maybe that’s got something to do with why she was trying to posit the pygmy mammoth as a unicorn chaser, earlier.

    But, regardless: I’m wondering how much more I could tell about my environment if I had an extraordinarily long and sensitive tooth… “Definitely a bit nippy out today–I”m getting an ice cream headache”

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