About Whales in the Sea LWP
Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic marine mammals. They comprise the extant families Cetotheriidae (whose only living member is the pygmy right whale), Balaenopteridae (the rorquals), Balaenidae (right whales), Eschrichtiidae (the gray whale), Monodontidae (belugas and narwhals), Physeteridae (the sperm whale), Kogiidae (the dwarf and pygmy sperm whale), and Ziphiidae (the beaked whales). There are 40 extant species of whales. The two suborders of whales, Mysticeti and Odontoceti, are thought to have split up around 34 million years ago.Whales belong to the clade Cetartiodactyla and their closest living relative is the hippo having diverged about 40 million years ago.
Whales range in size from the 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) and 135 kilograms (298 lb) dwarf sperm whale to the 34 metres (112 ft) and 190 metric tons (210 short tons) blue whale, which is also the largest creature on earth. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the females are larger than males. They have streamlined bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers. Though not as flexible or agile as seals, whales can travel at up to 20 knots. Balaenopterids use their throat pleats to expand their mouth to take in gulps of water.Balaenids have heads that can make up 40% of their body mass to take in water. Odontocetes have conical teeth designed for catching fish or squid. Mysticetes have a well developed sense of "smell", whereas odontocetes have well-developed hearing ? their hearing, that is adapted for both air and water, is so well developed that some can survive even if they're blind. Some species are well adapted for diving to great depths. They have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin to keep warm in the cold water.
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