What is it about?

Experiments on dolphin and porpoise heads, in which pressure transducers were placed within the mouth, reveal that species with shorter, blunter heads and correspondingly rounder mouth openings generate stronger suction pressures within the mouth for better suction feeding.

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Why is it important?

This work is important because it demonstrated, with experimental findings and mathematical analysis, that head and mouth shape are key determinants of water flow, which in turn help determine the effectiveness of feeding in cetaceans and other aquatic animals.


Other studies have pointed to changes in head shape and dentition in the evolution of whales and dolphins. This study added to the literature by confirming, with basic laboratory experiments, that there is indeed a causal connection between head/mouth shape and oral suction generation.

Dr. Alexander J. Werth
Hampden-Sydney College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Odontocete suction feeding: Experimental analysis of water flow and head shape, Journal of Morphology, January 2006, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10486.
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