However, in my sloth-like state, I have taken to watching nature videos on youtube, and Attenborough's Ark got me all jacked up on weirdo animals. So I am going to create my own 'ark' of 10 critters that top my super-awesome list, and over the next few weeks, will tell you about them. Here goes...
Marni's Ark Animal 1: the Narwhal
Super awesome feature of the narwhal: males have 1.5-3 m (that's 5-10 ft, for my Yank friends) canine tooth that grows straight through their upper left lip. They are basically a mammalian-fish-unicorn. For real.
|Narwhal male, showing the glorious tooth-o-horn.|
|Narwhal distribution (in blue).|
Narwhal are social animals and travel in groups ranging from small pods (5-10 individuals) to large aggregations (of a few hundred), depending on the seasonal food supply. They are fairly deep divers (up to 1500 m) and feed on benthic prey such as flat fish, squid, and cuttlefish.
Here is a clip narrated by Sir Attenborough himself, showing a group of narwhal cruising along.
Nobody really knows why male narwhals grow the immense tooth. About 1 in 500 males has two of the elongate canines, and a few females also have the tooth. The tooth is packed full of sensitive nerve endings, which suggests that it plays a sensory role. But, the males also engage in "tusking" behavior, where they joust with their tooth. This implies that the tooth is a secondary sexual characteristic, i.e. it serves to impress the ladies, but needs to be investigated further. I know I'm impressed.
Here is clip from National Geographic, with some great tusk footage.