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Heads-Up on a Whale's Gulp

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Science  20 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6066, pp. 276
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6066.276-a

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Summary

At the meeting, a paleontologist recounted discovering a new sensory organ in jaws of gulping whales. And a comparative physiologist described motoring right up to blue whales at sea to attach innovative sensors with radio transmitters on their backs. With colleagues, including a physicist and a computer scientist, he has come up with a detailed accounting of whale feeding bouts, showing how the animals unexpectedly twist as they take in water. The work has also revealed that the energy gained and expended by gulping may help explain why certain whales are as big as they are, and, perhaps, why they are no bigger.