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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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SPERM -Whale, or Cachalot ( Physeter macrocephalus ), the largest representative of the toothed whales, its length and bulk being about equal to, or somewhat exceeding those of the Arctic right-whale, from which, however, it is very different has on each side from twenty to twenty-five stout conical teeth,. which furnish ivory of good quality, though not in sufficient bulk for most of the purposes for which that article is required. The upper teeth are rudimentary and buried in the gum. The flipper is short, broad, and truncated, and the dorsal fin a mere low protuberance. The general colour of the surface is black above and grey below, the colours gradually shading into each other. The sperm-whale is one of the most widely distributed of animals, being met with, usually in herds or "schools," in almost all tropical and subtropical seas, and occasionally visiting the northern seas, a number having been killed around the Shetlands a few years ago. The food of sperm-whales consists mainly of squid and cuttlefish, but also comprises fish of considerable size. The substance called "ambergris," formerly used in medicine and now in perfumery, is a concretion formed in the intestine of this whale, and found floating on the surface of the sea. Its genuineness is proved by the presence of the horny beaks of the cuttles on which the whale feeds. The one representative of the genus Cogia is called the lesser or pigmy spermwhale, being only from 9 ft. to 13 ft. long.

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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Sperm-Whale'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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