Question Sheet: A Whale’s Amazing Tooth


Before reading:

  1. What is a narwhal? 
  2. What is a unicorn?

During reading:

  1. Do all narwhals have a long tooth, or tusk? What do the tusks look like? 
  2. Why did Martin Nweeia think that he would be a good person to figure out the

    mystery of the narwhal tusk? 

  3. What did Frederick Eichmiller’s team do with a narwhal tooth? 
  4. How are narwhal teeth different from human teeth? 
  5. Why is it surprising that a narwhal tooth is hollow and contains a bundle of


  6. What different types of scientists participated in the narwhal project?

After reading:

  1. Why would studying a narwhal tooth require a range of different scientists?

    What do you suppose each type of scientist did on the project? 

  2. Compare studying a narwhal with studying another animal of your choice. What

    additional obstacles do you think someone interested in narwhals would face? 

  3. Do you think the purpose of a narwhal’s tusk will continue to be a mystery

    for much longer? Why or why not? 

  4. How might the narwhal’s tooth function as a temperature or a pressure


  5. Describe another type of scientific project, which doesn’t involve people,

    that a dentist might find interesting to pursue. 

  6. Why might certain animals be unable to survive in a zoo? 
  7. What uses might an animal have for an especially long tooth, or tusk?


  1. What other animals live only in the Arctic? See (J. Giannetta) or Studies Center). 
  2. Which countries border the Arctic? See (J. Giannetta).


  1. Suppose that you are on a month-long expedition in the Artic. What sorts of

    information would you record on such a trip? Write six sample journal entries

    describing things that you might observe or encounter. See 

  2. The Narwhal’s tusk has been a source of myths and legends. See ( or (Wikipedia). Write your own story about why the animal has a tusk.


A narwhal is 15 feet long. A pilot whale is 8.5 meters long. How much shorter is a narwhal than a pilot whale?