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Mysterious Sensory Organ Found in Whale's Chin

from NPR

If you came face to face with a great whale, you might find a few surprises in its chin: Like whiskers, if you look closely at the surface. And, hidden inside the chin, lies a mysterious sensory organ, unknown to centuries of whalers and biologists.

You just need the right tools to find it: a high-tech, oversized x-ray machine, and the right saws to slice it into thin pieces that fit in a microscope.

A group of scientists based at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, BC, have done all that looking--and they discovered an organ that serves a crucial purpose and answers a longstanding mystery. How do great whales, such as humpbacks and blues, drive their jaws so wide open and then snap them shut, while swimming at full speed?

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