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Q: Do dolphins yawn? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Do dolphins yawn?
Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: webgodd_s-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 09 Dec 2003 23:39 PST
Expires: 08 Jan 2004 23:39 PST
Question ID: 285549
Do dolphins and other whale species yawn? I heard that all mammals
yawn, but I've never seen a dolphin or a whale yawn. If they do yawn,
is it through their blowholes or their mouths?
Subject: Re: Do dolphins yawn?
Answered By: robertskelton-ga on 10 Dec 2003 00:30 PST
Hi there,

I found the answer at WhaleNet:

"You may have noticed that terrestrial mammals have the ability to 
breathe through their mouths as well as the nostrils. Whales do not. A 
full-blown mammalian yawn in the traditional sense requires this 
ability to breathe through the mouth. 

In a yawn, the movement of the jaws is what clears the ears, not the 
passage of air/breathing. The stretch and relax thing is also facial 
muscular and has nothing to do with the nose (or in the case of whales, 

Technically, an acceptable definition of yawn is to simply to open 
wide. If we segregate the breathing aspect of the conventional 
mammalian yawn, whale do yawn. I've seen it in humpbacks, grays, and 
orcas. Humpbacks sometimes get an object caught in the throat. It could 
be a fish too large to fit down the hole or a piece of wood. They will 
yawn (open wide) attempting to dislodge the inappropriate object from 
their throat."

The author of the answer is Pieter Folkens, who is:

- a bio-medical illustrator
- a marine mammal morphologist who designed the orcas in Free Willy
- a co-investigator at the National Marine Mammal Lab in Seattle

Search keywords: "whales yawn"

Best wishes,
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