Difference Between Baleen and Toothed Whales

Baleen vs Toothed Whales

Whales are amongst the most interesting creatures in the world, which has a great contribution from their enormous body sizes and masses. These mammals have been classified into two major groups depending on what they have in their mouths, baleen whales and toothed whales. The interesting characteristics and differences between them should be worth take a look even for those who are known of these fascinating creatures.

Baleen Whales

Members of the Suborder: Mysticeti of Order: Cetacea are the baleen whales. There are 15 identified species of baleen whales in the world. They are so named due to the presence of baleen plates in their mouth to filter their food. Baleen whales are one of the two types of whales in the world, the other type being toothed whales. Baleen whales do not have teeth except during their embryonic periods. The largest animals of the Earth are the baleen whales; especially the females are larger than males. Some good example for famous baleen whale species would be Blue whale and Humpback whale.

A well-grown baleen whale could be almost 34 metres long and usually weighs about 190,000 kilograms. They cause a great fascination among people, not only because of the enormous body, but also due to the acrobatic abilities. Baleen whales can completely leap out and fall onto the water surface, which would be undoubtedly wonderful to watch. Since males break out of water frequently, scientists believe that it would be a display to attract females for mating. However, leaping out of water possibly could help them get rid of external parasites. One of the characteristics of baleen whales is the presence of two blowholes, which cause a V-shaped blow when they exhale. The earliest known baleen whale dates back to late Eocene, which is 29 – 39 million years before. Most of their species have gone extinct, but only six Families with 15 species live in today’s world.

Toothed Whales

As the name depicts, toothed whales have teeth in their mouth. With more than 70 species including sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whale, dolphins, etc. they are the mostly diversified group of the Order: Cetacea. Toothed whales are taxonomically classified in the Suborder: Odontoceti. Toothed whales, as they have only one blowhole, can be identified from a distance by observing a single line of blow when they exhale. Sperm whale is the largest of all the toothed whales, but others are relatively small. The number of teeth in the mouth can be as large as 100, but it varies considerably with the species. However, the Narwhale does not have teeth, yet there is a long and straight tusk. The head of toothed whales is not usually symmetrical, and there is only a limited connection of the two hemispheres of the brain.

Toothed whales are usually active feeders that mainly depend on fish. They can swim fast, but some prefer to ride on waves. Toothed whales communicate with each other using sound waves of low frequencies around 50 Hz. However, most of them use click sounds to locate the surroundings through the echolocation.

What is the difference between Baleen and Toothed Whales?

• The presence of baleen plates and teeth in the mouths mainly distinguish the two groups, and they are so named.

• Baleen whales are larger than toothed whales.

• There are more species of toothed whales than baleen whales.

• Toothed whales can swim faster than baleen whales.

• Baleen whales are filter feeders, but toothed whales are active predators.