The fibrocartilage skeleton and related structures of the ventral pouch of balaenopterid whales

J Morphol. 1977 Feb;151(2):299-313. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1051510207.


The mandibular symphysis of rorqual whales, whales of the genera Megaptera and Balaenoptera, is characterized by a Y-shaped fibrocartilage structure that lies in the substance of the muscular ventral pouch of these animals. The stem of the structure joins with the symphysis and is usually indicated externally by an unfurrowed median strip of blubber that has been called the "cutwater" by earlier writers. The arms of the Y pass back and are superficially indicated in all rorqual whales as a ridge running parallel to the rami of the mandibles. This fibrocartilage skeleton of the pouch is most closely related to the mylohyoid muscle. The function of the fibrocartilage Y is probably linked with the jaw mechanics of these whales, but its precise function is otherwise not known.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage / anatomy & histology
  • Cetacea / anatomy & histology*
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Whales / anatomy & histology*