Wednesday, September 22, 2010

{Trivial Tuesdays} The Largest Mammal on Earth

Goodness! I know it's Wednesday but it has almost been a month since the last Trivial Tuesday. I have a few promises to keep so here goes.


Q.13

What is the largest mammal on earth?


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A. 13
The Blue Whale
(Balaenoptera musculus
)


This amazing and mysterious animal has an average length between 20-30m and can weigh over 190 tons. I saw this life size replica at the American Museum of Natural History last week. It's impressive.
In the words of David Attenborough: "[...] it's far bigger than even the biggest dinosaurs. [...] it's tongue weighs as much as an elephant, it's heart is the size of a car [and] some blood vessel's are so wide you could swim down them."

It feeds almost exclusively on krill, small shrimp-like marine crustaceans, and a lot of it. The Blue whale's stomach can hold 2 tons of krill. Its sieve like baleen plates allows the Blue whale to swallow large gulps of water and push the water out through the plates without loosing the krill.

The coloration of this huge animal is what intrigues me most. It has a a grayish-blue mottled back and a light underside. This coloration is generally considered camouflage for most other aquatic species because it reduces the individuals visibility; a dark bark to blend in with the ocean depths and a lighter underside to blend in with the sky (if viewed from below). Great if you are expecting to be attack from the deep but what would attack the biggest living thing on earth? How about a Colossal squid? I'll muse about this for a little while and get back to you.

Blue whales own the seas. They have been spotted all across the globe except in the Mediterranean. Not much is known about their life cycle or their migration patterns. They bear one, 7 m 2.5 ton, calf which remains with the mother for 6-8 months.

Here is a clip from the Blue Planet, I strongly suggest that you watch the entire documentary.



Take Care!

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