Why on earth do narwhals have tusks?

Why Evolution Is True

Courtesy of alert reader QOS., I learned about an old bit of research from 2005, reported in the Harvard Gazette, purporting to answer the question above—but probably not succeeding. But let’s leave that aside for the nonce and learn a bit about narwhals. For reasons that elude me, they seem to have become the iconic species of atheists, perhaps because they’re a living unicorn.

The narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is a small toothed whale (odontocete) that lives in the Arctic portions of the Atlantic ocean. It’s an odontocete but has lost all its teeth but one—the tusk. The tusk is a very long canine tooth, and is found only in males.  It’s a spiral tooth and is placed not only asymmetrically (off to one side), but directionally asymmetrically—that is, it’s almost invariably on the left side. There’s a ton of good narwhal information at the “Narwhal FAQ”

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