Discovery of a low frequency sound source in Mysticeti (baleen whales): anatomical establishment of a vocal fold homolog. (1/16)

The mechanism of mysticete (baleen whale) vocalization has remained a mystery. Vocal folds (true vocal "cords"), the structures responsible for sound production in terrestrial mammals, were thought to be absent in whales. This study tests the hypothesis that the mysticete larynx possesses structures homologous to vocal folds and that they are capable of sound generation. Laryngeal anatomy was examined in 37 specimens representing 6 mysticete species. Results indicate the presence of a U-shaped fold (U-fold) in the lumen of the larynx. The U-fold is supported by arytenoid cartilages, controlled by skeletal muscles innervated by the recurrent laryngeal nerve, is adjacent to a diverticulum (laryngeal sac) covered with mucosa innervated by the superior laryngeal nerve, and contains a ligament-conditions that also define the vocal folds of terrestrial mammals and, therefore, supports homology. Unlike the vocal folds of terrestrial mammals, which are perpendicular to airflow, the mysticete U-fold is oriented parallel to airflow. U-fold adduction/abduction and elevation/depression may control airflow, and vibration of its edges may generate sounds. The walls of the laryngeal sac can expand and contract, may serve as a resonant space, and may also propagate vibrations generated by movements of the supporting arytenoid cartilages. The extensive musculature surrounding the laryngeal sac may enable rapid and forceful expulsion of air from the lumen of the sac into other respiratory spaces, or maintain a constant sac volume despite the effects of ambient pressure (e.g., changes during diving or ascent). The size and complexity of the mysticete larynx indicates an organ with multiple functions, including protection during breathing/swallowing, regulation of airflow and pressures in the respiratory spaces, and sound generation. The presence of a vocal fold homolog offers a new insight into both the mechanism of sound generation by mysticetes and the divergent evolution of odontocete and mysticete cetaceans.  (+info)

Effects of semen extenders and storage temperatures on characteristics of frozen-thawed Bryde's (Balaenoptera edeni) whale spermatozoa. (2/16)

The present study investigated effects of three semen extenders and storage temperatures on post-thaw characteristics of Bryde's whale spermatozoa. Spermatozoa were collected from the vasa deferens of three mature Bryde's whales captured during the Japanese whale research in the north-west Pacific (May to August 2007) after death. The three semen extenders used for freezing were 1) a commercialized synthetic extender (AndroMed: AM), 2) Tris-based + 10% bovine serum albumin (BSA) and 3) Tris-based + egg yolk (EY). The sperm samples from the three whales were frozen with the three extenders, and the post-thaw spermatozoa were stored at three different temperatures (35 C; 20-25 C, room temperature; and 5 C) for 0, 6, 12, 24, 48 and 96 h. At each time-point, total and progressive motility (PM), viability (live or dead), the hypo-osmotic test, defective acrosomes and malformation were examined. Immediately after thawing, AM resulted in similar recovery rates (60.4 and 83.3%) in 2 of the 3 whales examined and had comparable post-thaw recovery rates to those obtained using the EY and BSA extenders. Immediately after thawing, the proportion of PM in EY (17.6%) was higher (P<0.05) than that in BSA (15.0%). In the hypo-osmotic test, the proportions of AM (26.0%) and BSA (25.2%) were higher (P<0.05) than that of EY (17.3 %). The three extenders had similar viabilities (36.7, 37.9 and 32.1%, respectively), but the viability of BSA was higher (P<0.05) than that of EY. The present study showed that a synthetic semen extender, AndroMed, could be used for cryopreservation of whale spermatozoa in addition to Tris-based extenders containing bovine serum albumin or egg yolk. Storage of the post-thaw Bryde's whale spermatozoa was better at 5 C than at room temperature or 35 C. The frozen-thawed Bryde's whale spermatozoa maintained their motility and viability for at least two days at room temperature and for four days at 5 C.  (+info)

Exposure to seismic survey alters blue whale acoustic communication. (3/16)

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Production of Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) cloned embryos by inter- and intra-species somatic cell nuclear transfer. (4/16)

The objectives of this study were to choose an effective embryo reconstruction method and an effective post-activation agent for in vitro production of sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) interspecies somatic cell nuclear transfer (iSCNT) embryos. Moreover, trichostatin A (TSA) treatment of whale iSCNT embryos was performed to improve the in vitro embryo development. In Experiment 1, the fusion rate was significantly higher (88.1%) in embryos reconstructed using the intracytoplasmic cell injection method (ICI) than that (48.7%) in the subzonal cell insertion (SUZI) counterpart. The rates of pseudopronucleus (PPN) formation (77.4 vs. 77.2%) and cleavage (24.5 vs. 37.0%) did not vary between ICI and SUZI. However, the PPN formation and cleavage rates were significantly (P<0.05) lower in the iSCNT embryos than in the parthenogenetic control (95.7% and 64.4%, respectively). Although 21.5% of the bovine parthenogenetic embryos developed to the blastocyst stage, no iSCNT embryo developed beyond the 6-cell stage. In Experiment 2, the cleavage rate did not vary between the TSA (50 nM)-treated and non-treated whale iSCNT embryos (30.5 vs. 32.3%, respectively). Moreover, it did not vary between the TSA-treated iSCNT and SCNT embryos (30.5 vs. 32.0%, respectively). Only one TSA non-treated iSCNT embryo developed to a compacted morula with 20 nuclei. One TSA-treated whale SCNT embryo developed to the 8-cell stage, and out of five whale iSCNT embryos, a 6-cell stage embryo was positive for whale DNA. In conclusion, bovine oocytes have the ability to support development of sei whale nuclei up to the 6-cell stage.  (+info)

Mechanics, hydrodynamics and energetics of blue whale lunge feeding: efficiency dependence on krill density. (5/16)

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Recovering population parameters from a single gene genealogy: an unbiased estimator of the growth rate. (6/16)

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Convergent evolution driven by similar feeding mechanics in balaenopterid whales and pelicans. (7/16)

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Blue whales respond to anthropogenic noise. (8/16)

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