Sperm whale nitrogen narcosis
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Three groups of cetaceans arose from the land-dwelling ancestor or ancestors. The earliest group, the Archaeoceti, or ancient whales, died out about 20 million years ago. Of the surviving groups, one, the Odontoceti, or toothed whales, evolved specialized teeth to grasp fish and other relatively large prey such as squid, while the other living group, the Mysticeti, or baleen whales, lost their teeth and developed very large mouths equipped with filtering fringes or baleen with which they trap large numbers of very small organisms. Both of these evolutionary paths proved to be successful, and each group has diversified to fill various niches.
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How do deep-diving sea creatures withstand huge pressure changes?
How do deep-diving sea creatures withstand huge pressure changes? - Scientific American
See Article History Alternative Titles: Nitrogen , a major constituent of air, is quite inert and passes into the fluids and tissues of the body without undergoing chemical change. Even though it is not used to sustain the bodily functions, it, nevertheless, has certain effects upon the tissues when it is present in excess of the amounts breathed at atmospheric pressures. As divers descend in the water, the pressure upon their bodies increases proportionally to the water depth; in order for them to breathe normally, they are supplied with air at a pressure equal to that of the water. A diver situated at 30 m feet under water is breathing air that is four times more dense than at sea level; the quantity of nitrogen is, likewise, four times greater. Nitrogen is absorbed by the fatty tissue lipids much faster than by other tissues; the brain and the rest of the nervous system have a high lipid content.
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A similar size is reported from a jawbone from the British Natural History Museum. A 20m specimen is reported from a Soviet whaling fleet near the Kuril Islands in The sperm whale's distinctive shape comes from its very large, block-shaped head, which can be one-quarter to one-third of the animal's length.
It seemed only natural for deep-diving sperm whales to be immune from decompression illness, or the bends—the painful, sometimes fatal condition that human divers suffer when they surface too rapidly. But the whales may be as susceptible as land mammals, according to a new study by WHOI biologists. Michael Moore and Greg Early examined bones from 16 sperm whale skeletons archived in several museums and detected telltale patches of dead bone or osteonecrosis , which were most likely caused by nitrogen bubbles that form when divers decompress too rapidly. Only the bones of whale calves did not show signs of osteonecrosis, the scientists found, and the bone damage became more severe in larger older whales—an indication that osteonecrosis caused by decompression illness is a chronic, progressive disease among sperm whales.