Foremost narwhal expert also practicing dentist


Who wouldn't want to get their teeth cleaned by Martin Nweeia, a dentist/expert in one of the most ridiculous and Internet-beloved animals on the planet.

The two interests make sense together, writes Erin Biba at Tested, because the narwhal's spiraling "tusk" is actually a tooth. But it's not really that tooth that made Nweeia interested in the animal to begin with. Instead, it's the fact that a narwhal lacks other teeth.

This is a whale that eats pretty big fish and when you look inside its mouth it has no teeth. If i’m eating large fish, that might require chewing and biting, why give up all those teeth and put all of the energy into growing one giant tusk?

But there are also lots of the little things that don’t make sense. When you think of teeth, on both sides of a mammal's bite you’d expect them to be the same size and have a mirror image morphology or shape. In narwhals it couldn’t be more opposite. It doesn’t even fall within any parameter of any creature ever known on the planet.

If you look at the narwhal’s, its tusk comes out of the left side. When you see photos of them, they angle their body so the tusk appears straight in alignment with the horizontal axis. But if you look at them still, clearly the tusk is coming from the left side. The tooth on the right side often stays embedded in the skull.

You’ve got a tooth on one side that’s between a foot and a foot and a half and on the other side it’s 9 feet. Even in the rare instance when the narwhal has two tusks, the right is usually less in length from the left. The erupted tusk is on the left side or on both sides, or none. Never on the right by itself.

Image: Some rights reserved by protohiro