The coloration of Mesoplodon europaeus is black or dark grey on the back fading to a lighter gray on the sides and belly. For a cetacean, the head is small with respect to total body size. The tails of ziphiids (beaked whales) are unusual among cetaceans in having no notch in the center of the fluke. Some stranded specimens, particularly adult males, have many scars on their bodies, presumably from sharks and fighting between males.
Nearly all ziphiids have a greatly reduced number of teeth, and Mesoplodon europaeus has only two in the lower jaw. These two teeth are are visible outside the mouth as small “tusks” near the front of the rostrum. Conchoderma, stalked barnacles, often attach themselves to these teeth. Tusk shape varies between species and it has been proposed that these difference evolved in order to aid the animals in differentiating their own species, as Mesoplodon species are otherwise very similar in appearance. It is extremely difficult to distinguish the similar-looking species of this genus by sightings, and sometimes even when using the diagnostic characters of the skull.
(Lynn and Ross, 1992; Martin et al, 1990; McLeod, 2000b; Robineau and Vely, 1993; Vaughn et al, 2000; Pitman, 2001)
Range mass: 1200 + (high) kg.
Range length: 4 to 5.2 m.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
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