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N for Nails and Narwhals-

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alicecd24
1148868.  Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:29 pm Reply with quote

“The Narwhal” is a medium sized whale with a protruding canine tooth; its name comes from the Old Norse “nar”, meaning “corpse”, thanks to the whale’s grey, mottled skin, and habit of spending the summer months floating on the surface of the ocean (called “logging”, for obvious reasons) to bask in the sun, which apparently makes them easy to confuse with the floating bodies of dead sailors. Amazingly, despite it’s unhealthy grey-ish appearance, one ounce of narwhal skin contains the same amount of vitamin C as an ounce of oranges. The soft adipose tissue that creates the narwhals recognizable rounded head is charmingly called the “forehead melon”, and is used as a sound lens in echo location. Their tusks, which protrude through their upper lip, can grow up to 10 feet in length and are shaped in a distinctive left-handed helix. Historically, the narwhal tusks were believed to be for displays of male-male dominance, but they have recently been found to contain high concentrations of nerve endings, and it’s now thought that their tusks pick up sensory information about the surrounding environment, which can be passed on to other narwhals by rubbing their tusks together. So they really are like magic wands. Magic, mind reading wands made of teeth.
In Inuit mythology, the origin of the narwhal is pretty dark; to cut a long story short, an evil mother was tricked by her son into being dragged into the sea by a harpooned beluga whale. As she was dragged under the water, she “spiraled around the line, with her hair twisting into a long lance” and turned into the first narwhal.
On a less dire note, there is a popular “narwhal song” online which includes the lyrics “Like an underwater unicorn, They've got a kick-ass facial horn, They're the Jedi of the sea, They stop Cthulhu eating ye... Narwhals... Just don't let 'em touch your balls, Narwhals...Inventors of the Shish Kebab”.

On the subject of horns, a rhino is the only mammal with a constantly growing keratinous horn. On closer inspection, the lattice inside the horn is filled with melanin, to provide protection from UV, and calcium, for added strength. A rhino’s horn makes its recognizable curved shape thanks to the front side of the horn growing more quickly - this side of the horn is also softer, and can become quite sharp with use. Rhinos have a symbiotic relationship with the Oxpecker, which eats bugs from the rhinos hide and calls out when it spots danger, and have been discovered to make a delightful “mmmwonk” noise when happy.

Talking of funny noises, a French convent reported a strange case of mass-hysteria in 1844. Out of the blue, one of the nuns started meowing like a cat; shortly after, the other nuns started meowing. This was particularly unfortunate, as at this time belief in possession was common, and cats in particular were suspected of being in league with Satan. Eventually, all the nuns were meowing together, every day at the same time, for several hours at once. “The meowing went on until neighbors complained and soldiers were called, threatening to whip the nuns until they stopped meowing”.

Leading on from the rhino’s keratinous horn; have you ever wondered why your nails grow at different rates? It turns out the length and rate of nail growth is related to the length of the terminal phalanges (your finger bones). So, in humans, the nail of the index finger grows faster than that of the little finger; and fingernails grow up to four times faster than toenails. This is because the larger digits receive more oxygenated blood, and is exacerbated by the fact that your finger nails are closer to your heart, and that your fingers usually experience more bashes and bumps (which stimulate trauma-induced blood flow). This effect is hardly noticeable to the untrained eye, but it’s still possible to determine somebody's dominant hand by their nail length and growth rate!


http://www.techtimes.com/articles/4589/20140320/narwhal-tusk-scientists-finally-solve-real-purpose.htm
http://home.messiah.edu/~js1604/historyofnarwhal.html
http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Weebl:Narwhals
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narwhal
https://boingboing.net/2012/12/24/rhino-horns-arent-really-hor.html
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/01/why-finger-and-toenails-grow-at-different-rates/
http://biology.stackexchange.com/questions/9466/why-do-toenails-grow-much-slower-than-fingernails
http://news.discovery.com/history/history-mass-hysteria-120206.htm
http://www.clinicalcorrelations.org/?p=8159

 
Spud McLaren
1148871.  Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:41 pm Reply with quote

You can immediately tell which is my dominant hand, as the nails are longer than normal on the right, and shorter than normal on the left.

 
Zziggy
1148874.  Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:08 pm Reply with quote

alicecd24 wrote:
It turns out the length and rate of nail growth is related to the length of the terminal phalanges (your finger bones). So, in humans, the nail of the index finger grows faster than that of the little finger; and fingernails grow up to four times faster than toenails. This is because the larger digits receive more oxygenated blood, and is exacerbated by the fact that your finger nails are closer to your heart, and that your fingers usually experience more bashes and bumps (which stimulate trauma-induced blood flow). This effect is hardly noticeable to the untrained eye, but it’s still possible to determine somebody's dominant hand by their nail length and growth rate!

That is both quite interesting and something I have indeed wondered about! (i.e. why do my index nails grow noticeable faster.) But wouldn't the middle fingernail grow faster still?

 
Spud McLaren
1148899.  Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:10 am Reply with quote

The index finger gets more blood supply because of the extra exercise due to all that mouse-clicking, though.

[/daft]

 

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