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Stretchy nerves help some big whales open wide

stretchy nerves in a whale

WIDE OPEN  Fin whales and others like them have stretchy nerves (yellow) in their mouths and tongues that help the whales open their mouths wide to swallow a lot of prey.

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Stretchy nerves help some whales stuff their mouths with fish.

Rorqual whales, which include the behemoth blue whale and the fin whale, have nerves in their tongues and mouths that stretch and recoil like rubber bands, researchers report May 4 in Current Biology. These nerves stretch to more than double their original length and appear to unfold and refold as the whales open and close their mouths.

Nerves aren't known for their flexibility. Usually any bend or pull can damage them. Such stretchy nerves in these whales, however, may have helped some of them become the marine giants we see today, the scientists suggest.


Beetle’s toxic, explosive vapor explained

By Beth Mole 6:10pm, April 30, 2015
From a two-chambered gland in their rears, bombardier beetles unleash a toxic, blazing hot spray to defend themselves.
Planetary Science

MESSENGER mission ends with crash landing on Mercury

By Christopher Crockett 3:44pm, April 30, 2015
The MESSENGER mission to Mercury came to a spectacular end as the probe crashed into the planet’s surface.
Animals,, Conservation

Climate change revs up extinction risks

By Beth Mole 2:00pm, April 30, 2015
One in six species on the planet may face extinction if the global temperatures continue to rise.

Rock-wielding monkeys make adjustments when cracking nuts

By Bruce Bower 12:00pm, April 30, 2015
Videos show that monkeys carefully pound open nuts to avoid smashing kernels inside.
Planetary Science

Pluto’s landscapes come into view as New Horizons closes in

By Christopher Crockett 6:28pm, April 29, 2015
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Animals,, Paleontology,, Evolution

Rare fossils expand evolutionary history of sperm whales

By Helen Thompson 4:14pm, April 29, 2015
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Animals,, Genetics

Woolly mammoth DNA shows toll of low diversity

By Helen Thompson 1:39pm, April 27, 2015
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City- and country-dwelling microbes aren’t so different

By Bethany Brookshire 3:29pm, April 24, 2015
A new study reveals the microbial communities in our nation’s dust.

To reduce stress and anxiety, make yourself invisible

By Helen Thompson 10:56am, April 24, 2015
We may not be able to make people invisible, but researchers have discerned its effect on the human mind in a new study.
Genetics,, Science & Society

Gene in human embryos altered by Chinese researchers

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:29pm, April 23, 2015
Chinese researchers have genetically altered human embryos.
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