Baleen   鲸须


Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and then water pours into the whale’s mouth. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food source for the whale. Baleen is similar to bristles and is made of keratin, the same substance found in human fingernails and hair. Some whales, such as the bowhead whale, have longer baleen than others. Others whales, such as the gray whale, only use one side of their baleen. These baleen bristles are arranged in plates across the upper jaw of the whale.


Depending on the species, a baleen plate can be 0.5 to 3.5 metres (1.6 to 11 ft) long, and weigh up to 90 kilograms (200 lb). Its hairy fringes are called baleen hair or whalebone-hair. They are also called baleen bristles, which in sei whales are highly calcified, calcification functioning to increase their stiffness. Baleen plates are broader at the gumline (base). The plates have been compared to sieves or Venetian blinds.



Contents  目录

  • Etymology  词源
  • Evolution  进化
  • Filter feeding  滤食性能
  • Human uses  人类用途
  • As a habitat  栖息地
  • References  参考资料
  • Further reading  其他读物


Etymology  词源

The word “baleen” derives from Early Modern English word meaning “whale”. This in turn derives from the Latin balaena, related to the Greek phalaina – both of these also mean “whale”.

“鲸须”一词源自于早期的现代英语单词,意思是“ 鲸鱼 ”,也是出自拉丁文的balaena,跟希腊文的phalaina有关,两者的意思都是”鲸鱼”.


Evolution  进化

The oldest true fossils of baleen are only 15 million years old, but baleen rarely fossilizes, and scientists believe it originated considerably earlier than that. This is indicated by baleen-related skull modifications being found in fossils from considerably earlier, including a buttress of bone in the upper jaw beneath the eyes, and loose lower jaw bones at the chin. Baleen is believed to have evolved around thirty million years ago, possibly from a hard, gummy upper jaw, like the one a Dall’s porpoise has. In fact, it resembles baleen closely at the microscopic level.

鲸须最古老的化石只有1千5百万年,但鲸须很少变成化石,因此科学家相信它的起源更早。这一点可以从更早以前发现的有鲸须的鲸鱼头骨化石看出来,尤其是眼睛下方上颚骨里的一排骨头,以及下巴松动的下颚骨。科学家相信鲸须在大约三千万年前进化而成,有可能是从硬的上颚骨牙龈那里长出来,像达尔江豚也有的。 事实上,在微观层面上它更像鲸须。

Many early baleen whales also had teeth, but these were probably used only peripherally, or perhaps not at all (again like Dall’s porpoise, which catches squid and fish by gripping them against its hard upper jaw).



Filter Feeding  滤食性能

A whale’s baleen plates play the most important role in its filter-feeding process. In order to feed, a baleen whale opens its mouth widely and scoops in dense shoals of prey (such as krill, copepods, small fish and sometimes birds that happen to be near the shoals), together with large volumes of water. It then partly shuts its mouth and presses its tongue against its upper jaw, forcing the water to pass out sideways through the baleen, thus sieving out the prey which it then swallows.



Human Uses  人类用途

People formerly used baleen for making numerous items where flexibility and strength were required, including collar stiffeners, buggy whips and parasol ribs, and as corset stays. It was commonly used to crease paper; its flexibility kept it from damaging the paper. It was also occasionally used in cable-backed bows. Synthetic materials are now usually used for similar purposes, especially plastic and fibre glass. Baleen was frequently used in the 18th and early 19th centuries as the handle for silver punch or toddy ladles. It was chosen for this use because of its insulating qualities. Baleen plates are also used by indigenous people to create fine crafts.



As a Habitat  栖息地

Baleen serves as a habitat for some species from the gastropod families Pyropeltidae, Cocculinidae, Osteopeltidae and Neolepetopsidae.



See Also  另见

  • John Henry Devereux South Carolina architect who used whale jaw bones to adorn the largest mansion on Sullivan’s Island.

南卡罗来纳州的建筑师John Henry Devereux约翰亨利德弗罗用鲸鱼颚骨来装饰Sullivan苏里曼岛上最大的豪宅。

  • Cetaceans   鲸类动物
  • Whale Products  鲸鱼产品


—— END ——


Source > Wikipedia at

Translated by > BlogHost

Word Count > approx. 630 words in English

  1. July 26, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    edifying click

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