Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Monodon monoceros

The Narwhal means "corpse whale" in Old Norse.


Distinguishing Features - Length: up to 4.9 m; weight: up to 1600 kg. Overall colouration: adults, dark bluish-gray or brownish with slate-colored blotches on back and sides; young are slate-gray and lighten with age. Body: stout. Head: blunt with a long, spirally-twisted, "unicorn-like" horn. Males are slightly larger than females.

Narwhal Habitat

Mainly Arctic seas, rarely straying away from ice; in summer they infrequently enter estuaries, deep fjords, and bays.


Primarily fish, squid and crustaceans.


The purpose of the "horn" is not clear, perhaps used as a "jousting" weapon in courtship and dominance rivalry, in obtaining food, or for amplifying their sonar pulses.

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