Vogl et al./Current Biology 2015
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.