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.