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ALL ABOUT WHALES!
What is a Whale? Whale Information Sheets Anatomy and Behavior Extreme Whales Whale Myths Whale Evolution Whale Classification Whale Glossary Whale Activities Whale Index
Whale Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U-Z

C


CALF

A calf is a baby whale (or other baby cetacean).
CAMOUFLAGE
The disguising of a person, animal or thing so that it looks like its surroundings.


CARNIVORE

Carnivores are animals that eat meat. They usually have sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The toothed whales are carnivores.

CAUDAL

Caudal means toward or at the tail of an animal.

CENOZOIC ERA

The "Age of Mammals" (65 million years ago - today), saw the emergence of familiar life forms, humans, the modern look of the continents, and a cooling climate. The Cenozoic followed the Mesozoic Era.


CEPHALOPOD

Cephalopods (meaning "head foot") are mollusks with tentacles and a large head. These soft-bodied invertebrates include animals like squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, and the ammonites (extinct). They are fast-moving carnivores that catch prey with their tentacles and poison it with a bite from beak-like jaws. They move with by squirting water through a siphon, a type of jet propulsion. Many also squirt ink to help escape predators.

CETACEANS

Cetaceans are an order of marine mammals that include three suborders, including the Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises), Mysticeti (baleen whales), and Archaeoceti (extinct whales). There are 75 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

CHEVRON

A chevron is a v-shaped gray streak found behind the head of Fin whales.

CHORDATA

Chordates are animals that have a notochord and gill clefts at some point in their life. They have a hollow nerve cord that ends in a brain. Chordates include the vertebrates, cephalochordates (e.g. amphioxus), and urochordates (e.g. sea squirts).

CLADE

A clade is a group of all the organisms that share a particular common ancestor (and therefore have similar features). The members of a clade are related to each other

CLADISTICS

Cladistics is a method of classifying organisms based on common ancestry and the branching of the evolutionary family tree. Organisms that share common ancestors (and therefore have similar features) are grouped into taxonomic groups called clades. Cladistics can also be used to predict properties of yet-to-be discovered organisms.

CLADOGRAM

Cladograms are branching diagrams that depict species divergence from common ancestors. They show the distribution and origins of shared characteristics. Cladograms are testable hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships.

CLASS

In classification, a class is a group of related or similar organisms. A class contains one or more orders. A group of similar classes forms a phylum.

CLASSIFICATION

The classification of organisms helps in the their study. Cladistics is a method based on common ancestry; the Linnean system is based on a simple hierarchical structure.

CLICK TRAIN

A click train is a series of low-frequency clicks produced by an animal during echolocation. This train passes through the melon of the whale (a fat-filled organ in the head of the toothed whale that focuses the sound wave). The train of clicks is focused into a beam that bounces off objects and reflects (echoes) back to the whale.

COMMENSALISM

Commensalism is a situation in which two organisms are associated in a relationship in which one benefits from the relationship and the other is not affected much. The two animals are called commensals. The shark and the pilot fish (and remora) are commensals - the pilot fish benefits much more than the shark. Another example is bromeliads (plants living on trees in rainforests) and frogs; the frogs get shelter and water from the bromeliad but the bromeliad is unaffected. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis.
Food chain

CONSUMER

A consumer is a living thing that eats other living things to survive. It cannot make its own food (unlike most plants, which are producers). Primary consumers eat producers, secondary consumers eat primary consumers, and so on. There are always many more primary consumers than secondary consumers, etc.

CONTINENTAL DRIFT

Continental drift is the movement of the Earth's continents. The land masses are hunks of Earth's crust that float on the molten core.
CONTINENTAL SHELF
The continental shelf is the part of the ocean floor next to each of the continents. The sea floor slopes gradually from the continent to a depth of about 65 feet (200 m). Beyond the continental shelf the sea floor drops steeply

CONVERGENT EVOLUTION

Convergent evolution is when a trait develops independently in two or more groups of organisms. For example, the wings of Pterodactyls, birds, and bats.


COPEPODS

Copepods are miniscule crustaceans (related to shrimp) that are eaten by many baleen whales and many other animals. They are the biggest source of protein in the oceans, a major constituent of plankton, and are found in all of the oceans and in many bodies of fresh water.

COUNTERSHADING

Countershading is a type of body coloration that sharks, some whales, and some other animals have in which the top and bottom sides are colored differently, serving to camouflage the animal from multiple perspectives. In sharks, the top is much darker than the belly. When the shark is viewed from above, its dark top surface blends into the dark ocean depths or ocean floor; when viewed from below, the light-colored belly blends in with the light above. This helps the shark hunt in a stealthy manner, enabling it to sneak up on prey undetected.

COW

A cow is an adult female whale.
CRETACEOUS PERIOD
Flowering plants appeared and dinosaurs were at their height during the Cretaceous period, 146-65 million years ago. There was a mass extinction (the K-T mass extinction) at the end of the Cretaceous, marking the end of the dinosaurs and many other species.

CRUSTACEANS

Crustaceans are mostly marine animals (invertebrates) that have an exoskeleton and jointed legs. They are arthropods. Copepods, barnacles, amphipods, isopods, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and crayfish are crustaceans.

CUVIER'S BEAKED WHALE

Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris ) is a toothed whale that is about 23 ft (7 m) long. It has a single pair of teeth that protrude from the tip of the lower jaw; these teeth point forward. Like all beaked whales, this is a deepwater species; dives of up to 40 minutes have been recorded. This whale feeds mostly on squid, but also eats deepwater fish. Small pods of up to 15 whales live and migrate as a group. There is no definite breeding season; calves are born at any time of the year. This species was named by Linnaeus in 1758.

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Whale Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U-Z

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