They’re pretty big and pretty white.
Narwhals are pretty cool creatures. Often called the unicorns of the sea, these mythical (but not all that rare) creatures sport a fancy horn. It’s not actually a horn though, it’s a tusk. Their left canine tooth, to be precise. So even though it is often depicted as such, it’s neither located on their foreheads, or in the center of their faces. The thing can grow up to 3.1 meters in length. And get this, about 0.2% of the narwhals grow a second tusk, because their right canine tooth decided to become huge as well. But despite their impressive looks, they only weigh, on average, 10 kilograms, because they’re hollow inside.
So what is it really for, that kick-ass “facial” “horn”? Nothing, really. Our best guess is that it’s just a secondary sexual characteristic, since it only grow long with male narwhals. Kind of like how male birds are usually prettier, with fancy colors for their feathers and all that. Other than that, it may also play a role in determining social ranks within a pod (group of whales). For example, the males sometimes “tusk”, rubbing their horns together in order to determine or maintain dominance.
So, sorry to break it to you, but it’s not a fancy lance or something. It’s not used for fighting, or any other “active” task. Hell, I’d think there’s a fair chance it’ll break off if they ever try to break open a layer of ice with it.
Moving off of the topic of their tusks now, narwhals have a pretty decent lifespan, estimated to hang somewhere around 50 years. They usually die of suffocation if they fail to leave the area once the waters start freezing over. They need air, after all. Aside from more or less natural deaths, their only predators are humans. Granted, the occasional orcas sometimes form a threat as well, but it doesn’t occur real often.
Hope you learned something new today!