A toothed whale with a massive head, typically feeding at great depths on squid, formerly valued for the spermaceti and sperm oil in its head and the ambergris in its intestines.
- Family Physeteridae: two genera and three species, in particular the very large Physeter macrocephalus (also called cachalot).
- This anatomical quirk occurs only in toothed whales - including the sperm whale, narwhal, orca, and porpoise - and it helps explain an old maritime mystery.
- ‘He must know we have the paparazzi on board,’ muses Lisa Steiner as the massive bulk of a sperm whale cruises gracefully across the bow of our boat.
- The sperm whale, a toothed mammal whose lower jaw resembles a vast surfboard with peaked crenellations at its edges, has been found at 3000 metres.
Mid 19th century: sperm, abbreviation of spermaceti.
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