Chapter 18 - Sensory systems


Chapter 18 - Sensory systems


Thewissen JGM; George JC; Suydam RS; Sformo TL


The Bowhead Whale




The sensory biology of bowhead whales reflects features both related to their origin from land mammals and adaptations to their current environment, polar seas. There is anatomical and genomic evidence that bowheads have a sense of smell. Their sense of taste may be limited to detecting salty flavorants and there is no vomeronasal organ. They lack binocular vision and color vision, and it is likely that they can perceive the magnetic field. Similar to other mysticetes, their organ of hearing is adjusted to low frequencies. Their organ of balance is much smaller than could be expected when compared to land mammals, and the functional reason for this is unclear. Sensory hairs on the face may detect water current, and, when exposed to air, wind direction.


Book Chapter

NEOMED College

NEOMED College of Medicine

NEOMED Department

Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

Update Year & Number

Jan to Aug list 2021


Thewissen JGM; George JC; Suydam RS; Sformo TL, “Chapter 18 - Sensory systems,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed May 25, 2024,