seen of the length of more than twenty feet, from its mouth to the tail, and is distinguishable from every other kind of whale, by its very long horn-like tooth, which is perfectly straight, smooth, and of a yellowish white colour, spirally wreathed throughout its whole length, invariably twisting from left to right, and gradually tapering to a sharp point. This tusk, which is from one to nine or ten feet long, proceeds from a socket on the left side of the upper jaw, and is usually hollow from the base to a considerable extent. It is regarded as the finest ivory, and was formerly numbered among the articles of regal magnificence. A throne, made of such for the Danish monarch, is still preserved in the castle of Rosenburg, and is considered by the possessors to be of more value than gold. Besides this tusk or horn, which is peculiar to the male, there is another on the right side of the head, imbedded in the skull; this latter is solid throughout, and placed back in the substance of the skull, about six inches from the most prominent part. The skull of the narwal is concave above, having a flat, wedge-shaped, large projection in front, which affords sockets for the tusks; the cavity in the head, that communicates with the blow-holes, is divided by a bony substance. In the hollow of the ear are occasionally found large bunches of worms, about an inch and a half long, constantly in motion, and as fine as very small sewing thread. The narwal is very active, and swims with great Swiftness, but cannot keep under the water long. Before the fish comes to the surface to respire, a
Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/96
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VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.