Only the males of which whale species have teeth?


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Only the male members of the True’s beaked whale have teeth, mostly likely used to battle other males for mating, feeding and territory. Evidence of male battles can be found all along the skin of male True’s beaked whales which are often blanketed in visible scars. The white scars are so prominent on older males that they are mostly white from the healed wounds.

Little is known about the True’s beaked whale, which is common for all beaked whales. There are 22 species in the Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales) and they are all so similar in appearance that even experienced researchers have difficulty telling species of them apart even when they’re dead. Adding to the difficulty are the shared behavioral traits of beaked whales that help maintain their anonymity: they maintain a low profile above the surface, avoiding breaching or attention-getting techniques displayed by other whales. Instead, beaked whales will typically make little noise or show when breathing at the surface despite often being in pods of up to 20 individuals and occasionally in groups as large as 50. Beaked whales also feed in deep water, often in depths of 2,500-4,000 feet (800-1,200 m), further complicating research on the animals.