Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Narwhal

Picture Found Here

Narwhals are interesting creatures.

From Wikipedia: in Inuit legend, the narwhal's tusk was created when a woman with a harpoon rope tied around her waist was dragged into the ocean after the harpoon had struck a large narwhal. She was transformed into a narwhal herself, and her hair, which she was wearing in a twisted knot, became the characteristic spiral narwhal tusk. Then some Medieval Europeans believe narwhal tusks to be the horns from the unicorn. As these horns were considered to have magic powers, such as the ability to cure poison and melancholia, Vikings and other northern traders were able to sell them for many times their weight in gold. The tusks were used to make cups that were thought to negate any poison that may have been slipped into the drink. During the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth received a carved and bejeweled narwhal tusk for £10,000—the cost of a castle (approximately £1.5—2.5 Million in 2007, using the retail price index). The tusks were staples of the cabinet of curiosities. The truth of the tusk's origin developed gradually during the Age of Exploration, as explorers and naturalists began to visit Arctic regions themselves. In 1555, Olaus Magnus published a drawing of a fish-like creature with a horn on its forehead, correctly identifying it as a "Narwal.”

In reality, The narwhal, Monodon monoceros is a medium-sized toothed whale that lives year-round in the Arctic. One of two living species of whale in the Monodontidae family, along with the Beluga whale, the narwhal males are distinguished by a characteristic long, straight, helical tusk extending from their upper left jaw. Found primarily in Canadian Arctic and Greenlandic waters rarely south of 65°N latitude, the narwhal is a uniquely specialized Arctic predator. In the winter, it feeds on benthic prey, mostly flatfish, at depths of up to 1500 m under dense pack ice. Narwhal have been harvested for over a thousand years by Inuit people in Northern Canada and Greenland for meat and ivory and a regulated subsistence hunt continues to this day. While populations appear stable, the narwhal has been deemed particularly vulnerable to climate change due to a narrow geographical range and specialized diet. [End of info from Wikipedia]

My sister knows a person who doesn’t believe in narwhals. Isn’t that weird? They do look pretty mythological, but I think it is awesome they exist. What will we find next? Dragons? Centaurs? Phoenix? It would be awesome.

7 comments:

Pk Hrezo said...

Oh I've always loved these creatures. Something so fascinating about them!

magpiewrites said...

I don't think its weird to not believe in Narwhals. I mean, I do believe, but sometimes, when I'm not paying attention, I think, wait, is that real or did I make it up. Still, the Narwhal/unicorn connection is awesome, like the mermaid/manatee connection. Those medieval people had great imaginations!

BTW, I gave you the prestigious Versatile Blog Award. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/dXjs0w, if you are into awards and such. If not, that's totally cool. Consider it a virtual high five.

Christine said...

Reality can be so fascinating. ^_^ Hey, and think, the majority of our planet which is under the oceans has not been explored yet. What will they find down there when they do?

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Narwhals do look unreal. I vote for centaurs to be the next mythic creature we find really exists.

Madeline Bartos said...

Narwhals kind of scare me. . . I almost want them to be cute, but they're just a bit freaky, probably because they look unreal. Our world is awesome. 'Cause we got narwhals. ;)

Trisha said...

This is actually the first time I've ever heard of one of these creatures. Wow!

Jessica Yopp said...

I remember the first time I saw a picture of a Narwhal, I thought sure it was fake, or a mythological creature. I think it's awesome that a creature that looks like it stepped (swam?) out of a fantasy novel exists in real life!