The Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of the toothed whales and is the largest toothed animal in the world. The whale was named after the milky-white substance spermaceti found in its head and originally mistaken for sperm. The Sperm Whale's enormous head and distinctive shape, as well as its central role in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, have led many to describe it as the archetypal whale. Partly due to Melville, the Sperm Whale is commonly associated with the quasi-mythic Leviathan of Biblical lore.









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The Sperm Whale is exceptional for its very large head, particularly in males, which is typically one-third of its length. Indeed, the species name macrocephalus is derived from the Greek for 'big head'. In contrast to the smooth skin of most other large whales, the skin on the back of the Sperm Whale is usually knobbly and has been likened to a prune by whale-watching enthusiasts (ref 5. below). They are uniformly grey in colour though may appear brown in sunlight (the "Great White Whale" of Melville's novel, if such an animal existed, was an albino). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the brain of the Sperm Whale is the largest and heaviest of all animals (weighing on average 7 kg in a grown male). However, the brain is not large relative to body size. The blowhole is situated very close to the front of the head and shifted to the left (as observed when facing the same direction as the whale). This gives rise to a distinctive bushy blow angled forward. The dorsal fin is set about two-thirds of the way down the spine and is typically short and shaped like an equilateral triangle. The fluke is also triangular and very thick. Flukes are lifted very high out of the water before a whale begins a deep dive.

















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