Human earwax is not as gross as when you get to see a blue whale's earwax, that can be as big as a foot long tube and even an inch thicker.
Blue whale species have their ear canals sealed to protect their eardrums, which become the cause of huge amount of earwax built up. And since whales do not hear like humans, such wax build up cannot hinder their need to hear.
Compared to human beings, when the blue whales' earwax builds up, they are not put to waste. According to a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers can use the earwax to know essential information about the blue whale, like its age. It works just like how tree rings can inform you about the age of the tree.
Various traces taken from the whale's earwax are used to tell the encounters that the whale may have experienced since the time it was born and up to the time it dies.
When a 12-year-old blue whale washed ashore lifeless in Santa Barbara, it became a great opportunity for researchers to test their hypothesis and other theories. With its earwax, they discovered marks caused by stress all due to possible contaminants and other deadly chemicals like mercury and pesticides. The earwax also told the story that during its first year since the time it was born, the mum of the whale did a good nursing job since there were just 20 percent of the organic contaminants that showed up. These may have been the toxins transferred naturally during the gestation of the mother whale.
On the other hand, mercury and other pollutants were seen at its highest in the whale's earwax during the latter parts of its life. This just meant that the older it gets, the higher the number of pollutants that built up inside its ears, Smithsonian Magazine reports.
Everyone must agree though, it's still a little gross.
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