Stretchy Nerves Help Baleen Whales Open Wide
Lunge-feeding whales' stretchy mouths need stretchy nerves
They are able to do this because the oral cavity expands to accommodate the water. This was known before, but not all of the mechanisms that make it possible were well understood.
Now, new research by Dr. Wayne Vogl, from the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has identified a unique nerve structure in the mouth of the whale than can double in length, similar to a bungee cord. Similar stretching in humans, for example, would result in painful nerve damage.