Have you noticed how humpback whale’s head looks? It is quite bumpy!

The bumps are called tubercles. These fist-sized bumps contain one hair follicle each and is connected to a set of sensitive nerves. Basically, these tubercles are the hair of humpback whales! 

The tubercles are distributed in upper and lower jaws and it is estimated that approximately 10,000 nerves innervate 30 to 60 individual tubercles distributed across a humpback whale’s head.

The exact function of these tubercles are still unknown, but several researchers believe that these bumps are part of the sensory system of humpback whales, even it appears early in humpback whale fetal development, suggesting that they play a significant sensory role.

It is thought that each tubercle is used to detect vibrations on the water column and helps humpback whales find their preys. 

Although, these tubercles might be a mystery, it is certain that aquatic animals need to develop different sensory systems than terrestrial animals in order to perceive the marine environment, where light is not so present.

If you have a chance to see a humpback whale closer, you will certainly find these tubercles up close!


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