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James, in a typical conversation that began with "Smell my finger!" and ended with "Pardon me while I kiss the sky!" posed the following intriguing question, which answer I do not know.

Do whales have mucus in their blowholes? (Translated from the original James.) And I'd add, do they sneeze? Do they get stuffed up? Is the cloud of spray from a whale spouting in part whalesnot? I sort of suspect that the sheer power of the ejecting air would render any stuffiness moot, but now I'm curious...

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Whale sneezes and hippo conundrums

*hangs head in shame* I didn't know off the bat. At one point I wanted to be a cetacean biologist, but I only have a useless biology degree and live in the desert far from any marine life of any sort. A quick search revealed the following:

Cetaceans do have mucus in their blowholes. Part of the cloud of spray from a whale blowing on the surface is mucus from the nasal cavity, though it's mostly water vapor and oil droplets from the sinuses.

Whales can get infections in their blowholes, much like we can get sinus infections. Discharge of mucus is often a symptom of infection. Whales can cough through their blowholes, but don't actually sneeze the way we (or our dogs or cats) would.

And on an interesting tangent, my genetics prof indicated that molecular evidence is forcing a reclassification of several mammalian orders. The artiodactyles (even-toed hooved mammals such as cows, goats and deer) and cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are being reclassified into a single order or maybe a superorder called artio-cetacea or some such. Hooray for the weirdness of hippos.

Re: Whale sneezes and hippo conundrums

And hyraxes, also an "early common prototype" creature in this lineage. The hyrax is a sort of hooved ruminant -- but with a tiny hoof on each toe, rather like a human fingernail I'm told.

"I hate the heinous hyrax," she said...

===|==============/ Level Head

Re: Whale sneezes and hippo conundrums

Woo! Thank you, I feel better for knowing this.

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