Update from scientists-rib structure

The scientists are removing the muscle layer to reveal the pygmy right whale’s unusual bone structure.

This is Dr Sentiel Rommel’s thoughts on the rib structure:

You can see the ribs gradually changing to the unique flattened and overlapping ribs on the right. the space between the ribs allows them to move as the whale breathes and also accomodates changes in volume that occurs as the air is compressed by water pressure when the whale dives through deep water.

The flattened ribs don’t have as much space between them and overlap. The study of terrestial animals that have wide, flattened ribs (the pangolin and anteater) have shown that these ribs proably increase the stiffness of the body.

So possibly a stiffer body has advantages in the way they swim, but this is purely speculative at the moment!

Hi this is Anton on Jane’s blog. This morning we discovered that the second rib on the left side of the animal is broken. We can tell from the bloody area around the break that the animal suffered this injury prior to death. Dead animals don’t bleed. This injury probably occured at the time of the stranding but most likely did not contribute to cause of death.

7 Responses

  1. sandrar

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  2. janekeig

    Te Papa is dedicated to non-lethal research of whales. For instance this specimen died after stranding on a New Zealand beach. Check out the earlier blog posts for more detail.

    Cheers Jane

  3. chris

    yes im sure there is some most interesting things that this whales body does or shall I say used to do!!!!!!! stop murdering whales

  4. jb

    stop murderng whales please

  5. Tamojit Ghosh

    Where will the pygmy whale viscera from this specimen be eventually preserved ? I was going to ask something on the whales serrati muscles but I wait to read what you publish. Humans have 8 digitations on the Serratus Anterior just wondered how many the pygmy whale had …

  6. Anton van Helden

    Dear Tamojit

    The arrangement of the musculature is one of the things we will be publishing on in due course, particualrly the arrangement of muscles to the flattened ribs. There are plenty of strange features of this species that will be covered in future reports and papers. Thank you for your interest and sorry this may seem vague, but we are working through this material now.

    Yours sincerely


  7. Tamojit

    I presume that the pgymy right whale does have 3 layers of body wall muscles. Does this whale have internal and external intercostalis muscles like humans? Were they there in the flattened expanded portion of the lower ribs with any strange features? The ribs and these 2 muscles groups both rise from the same layer of body wall muscle (middle layer).


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