- These whales have the largest brains of any mammal to have ever inhabited the Earth.
- They are the only living cetacean that has a single blowhole asymmetrically situated on the left side of the crown of the head.
- The white whale in the novel Moby Dick was based on two real-life sperm whales.
Welcome to the Sperm Whale Quiz, where you can test your knowledge and learn more about the largest toothed animal on the planet! Sperm whales have one of the largest global circulations of any species of marine mammal. They can be found in all deep oceans, from the Arctic and Antarctic all the way down to the Equator.
Take the quiz to test your knowledge of Sperm Whales if you believe you know everything there is to know about them or if you simply want to learn more about these massive animals!
History Of The Sperm Whale
The sperm whale, also known as a cachalot, belongs to the genus Physeter macrocephalus in the family Cetacea and is the only living member of this genus. It is the largest of the toothed whales and the last common ancestor was in the family Physeteroidea. Although it appears that they separated from the family Physeteroidea fairly early, over 20 million years ago. The most primitive fossil found dates back to the late Paleogene Period, or Oligocene, about 28 million to 23 million years ago. This fossil possesses similar features that are specific to the sperm whale, like the asymmetric snout.
The majority of the fossils found for this mammal are from 23 million to 5 million years ago, during the Miocene era. The only difference from the modern-day species is in their facial structure and amount of teeth.
Interesting Sperm Whale Facts
The sperm whale has been written about for centuries but the most famous account was by Herman Melville in his 1851 novel, Moby Dick, which was based on the multiple accounts of sperm whale encounters. One was of a white whale called Mocha Dick who was named after the island of Mocha, Chile, where he was first sighted. This whale was reported to have destroyed over 20 ships before it was eventually caught by whalers. The other was from the former captain of the whaling ship, Essex, that was rammed by a sperm whale. Here are more interesting facts about the mighty sperm whale:
- The longest recorded dive for this whale was over 2 hours.
- Their name comes from the massive spermaceti organ located in the forehead region that can hold up to 500 gallons of wax-like oil.
- This spermaceti was once used to light the industrialized world which led to the overhunting of the species.
- Decaying whale corpses are prone to exploding due to a gas build-up.
- Their pods, or groups, usually consist of 15 to 20 members.