toothed whale

toothed whale
any whale of the suborder Odontoceti, having conical teeth in one or both jaws and feeding on fish, squid, etc. Cf. whalebone whale.

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Common term for members of the cetacean suborder Odontoceti.

Toothed whales have slicing teeth and a throat large enough to swallow chunks of giant squid, cuttlefish, and fish of all kinds. Included in this group are the beluga, killer whale, pilot whales, sperm whale, and mammalian dolphins, porpoises, and narwhals.

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▪ suborder of mammals
 any of the odontocete cetaceans (cetacean), including the oceanic dolphins (dolphin), river dolphins (river dolphin), porpoises (porpoise), pilot whales (pilot whale), beaked whales (beaked whale), and bottlenose whales (bottlenose whale), as well as the killer whale, sperm whale, narwhal, and beluga whale (beluga).

      The ancestors of present-day odontocetes probably evolved during the Oligocene Epoch (33.7 million to 23.8 million years ago) from a group of more ancient whales (whale) called archaeocetes, which also had teeth, as did some early baleen whales (baleen whale). Some odontocetes have only vestigial teeth buried in their jawbones; others have teeth that are erupted, in numbers varying from 1 in the narwhal to more than 240 in the franciscana, or La Plata river dolphin. The teeth are simple cones that function only for grasping, not chewing. The teeth are also used in aggressive behaviour among members of the same species to seize or shake an opponent.

      Odontoceti is a term derived from the Greek odontos (“tooth”) and ketos (“whale”).

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Universalium. 2010.

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