Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Moby Dick - how fictional?

In the famous novel, a sperm whale rams a ship. It's presumably fiction.

Except that studies now show the sperm whale's unusual, large head is actually perfectly designed for, well, ramming things. Things up to twice its size. (So, while a sperm whale couldn't sink a big ship, they could certainly take out a small one.

The fact that male sperm whales have much bigger heads than females gives a hint as to why - sperm whales appear to be distantly related to sheep and goats, who compete for mates by butting heads. While nobody's seen male sperm whales do it, maybe they do it way down in the depths somewhere...