Difference between Baleen and Toothed Whales

Whales are considered the largest animals that exist on planet earth. They are classified into two main groups: the baleen whales and the toothed whales. Both these giant mammals might look similar in many ways, but there are some key differences between them.

The most notable difference between these two species of whales is that baleen whales are larger in size and have got two blow holes on top of their heads. The blue whale, which is known to be the largest animal on the planet, belongs to the baleen group.

On the other hand, some of the main species of toothed whales are sperm whales, beaked whales, killer whale and dolphins. There are more species of these whales as compared to the baleen group, and all of them have got one blow hole on top of their heads.

Since toothed whales are not particularly large in size, they can swim a lot faster as compared to baleen whales. Dolphins are one of the quickest swimmers from this group.

The male baleen whales are smaller than the females. However, the situation is opposite in the toothed whale family.

Another difference between the two is the fact that toothed whales are socially more active as compared to baleen whales.


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    Baleen whales

    Just as their name suggests, these creatures have got baleen plates in their mouths, which help in the filtration of food. Baleen plates are actually made up of a special protein known as keratin, which is also found in the human body. It helps in developing the hair and fingernails of human beings, but its purpose inside a whale’s body is entirely different.

    The baleen plates inside the mouth of a whale are quite strong, but they are flexible at the same time. Once the whale catches prey from the sea water, these plates help in filtering that food before it goes down into the stomach.

    Some species of whales have got hundreds of baleen plates inside their mouths. They are quite smooth on the outside, but have got a hairy fringe on the inner side. Moreover, these plates are almost a quarter inch apart from each other.

    Image courtesy: web.cs.dal.ca

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    Toothed whales

    The name of these whales clearly indicates that they have got teeth inside their mouths. The maximum number of teeth a whale can have inside its mouth is 100. However, this number can vary between species.

    Image courtesy: flickriver.com

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