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Function of the Spermaceti Organ of the Sperm Whale


THE structure of the head of the sperm whale (Physeter catodon) was described in outline by Pouchet and Beauregard1–3 and by Raven and Gregory4, but the function of the large, wax filled spermaceti organ and related structures is not known although several theories4–6 have been advanced.

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  1. Pouchet, G., and Beauregard, H., CR Hebd. Séanc. Acad. Sci., Paris, 8, 342 (1885).

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  2. Pouchet, G., and Beauregard, H., CR Séanc. Soc. Biol., 9 (1), 553 (1889).

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  3. Pouchet, G., and Beauregard, H., Nouv. Archs. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris, 3 (4), 1 (1892).

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  4. Raven, H. C., and Gregory, W. K., Amer. Mus. Novit., 677, 1 (1933).

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  5. Hamilton, J. E., Rep. Brit. Assoc. Advmt. Sci., D 6, 1 (1914).

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  6. Kooyman, G. L., and Andersen, H. T., in The Biology of Marine Mammals (edit. by Andersen, H. T.), 511 (Academic Press, New York and London, 1969).

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  7. Rand, R. W., Investl. Rep. Div. Sea Fish. S. Afr., No. 51, 4 (1965).

  8. Kernan, J. D., and von Schulte, H., Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 38, 231 (1918).

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  9. Lawrence, B., and Schevill, W. E., Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harv., 114, 104 (1956).

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CLARKE, M. Function of the Spermaceti Organ of the Sperm Whale. Nature 228, 873–874 (1970).

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