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Meeting: Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The First CAT Scan of a Sperm Whale Head, and What It Teaches Us About What Female Sperm Whales Find Sexy

Ted Cranford
San Diego State University

Whale scans (C) 1999 Ted W. Cranford

When a sperm whale beached and died on the northern California coast, marine biologist Ted Cranford managed to get its head cut off, frozen, transported to China Lake Naval Weapons Station, and scanned with the largest CAT scanner in the world, normally used to check rocket motors for cracks. He was the first person to learn the true shape of the "spermiceti" organ and so-called "junk" in the sperm whale's nose, and to analyze their functions with more than sheer guesswork. He published his results in The Sperm Whale's Nose: Sexual Selection on a Grand Scale? in the October 1999 issue of Marine Mammal Science; he is also featured in the December 2003 issue of Discover magazine, in the article "Blast from the Vast: What's the Purpose of Nature's Most Powerful Sound?" At our our January event he will share his images and results from this breakthrough visualization.

6:30 - 7:30 PM Social Hour
7:30 - 9:00 Meeting


Members free. Non-members $5. Memberships $15/year.

Address, directions and maps:

The Roon Foundation conference room,
Beckman Center for Chemical Sciences,
The Scripps Research Institute
10550 Torrey Pines Rd.
San Diego, CA 92037

From Interstate 5, northbound from downtown San Diego, or southbound from Del Mar, take Genessee exit west, fork north (right) on Torrey Pines Rd., then take a left (west) at the first traffic light at "Scripps Clinic South Driveway" into the driveway, and follow yellow SIGGRAPH signs to parking.


Updated 01/21/04

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