New Sensory Organ in Rorqual Whales

This new organ may be responsible for the large size of Rorqual whales, such as this Fin whale

Another for the ‘no idea what he’s talking about’ pile, I’m afraid: Organ Discovery Shows Why Whales Didn’t Evolve, by Brian Thomas.

Rorqual whales are a subgroup of the Baleen whales – the filter feeders – and include the blue whale, along with many other large whales such as the fin whale above. Baleen whales (order Mysticeti, as they are called in the paper) have two separate (left and right) unfused halves to their lower jaw. In the Nature paper Thomas discusses, Discovery of a sensory organ that coordinates lunge feeding in rorqual whales, a sensory organ has been found to be located in the gap between the two jaw bones of rorquals, and is hypothesised to play an important role in these whales lunge-feeding behaviour:

Despite the antiquity of unfused jaws in baleen whales since the late Oligocene (~23–28 million years ago), this organ represents an evolutionary novelty for rorquals, based on its absence in all other lineages of extant baleen whales. This innovation has a fundamental role in one of the most extreme feeding methods in aquatic vertebrates, which facilitated the evolution of the largest vertebrates ever.

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