The Unicorn of the Sea: Narwhal Quiz

Estimated Completion Time
2 min
The Unicorn of the Sea: Narwhal Quiz
Image: Dr. Kristin Laidre/Polar Science Center, UW/NOAA/OAR/OER

About This Quiz

The narwhal is more than just another whale; with its mighty tusk, it's often called the unicorn of the sea and may have inspired many of the unicorn myths you hear today. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of this magnificent mammal.
True or false: A narwhal is a type of whale.
true
The narwhal is a type of odontocete, or toothed whale.
false

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Which of these is another name for the narwhal?
white whale
corpse whale
Narwhals are commonly known as corpse whales because the creature's mottled appearance makes its resemble a bloated corpse.
killer whale

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How long is a baby narwhal at birth?
3 feet (91 centimeters)
5 feet
The narwhal measures 5 feet at birth and grows to an average length of 13-20 feet (4-6 meters).
8 feet

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How much does the average narwhal weigh?
1,200 pounds (500 kilograms)
2,300 pounds
3,500 pounds
A typical narwhal weights in at 3,500 pounds.

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What is the narwhal's favorite food?
plankton
algae
fish
Narwhals nosh on fish, shrimp and squid.

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Where do most narwhals live?
Australia
arctic region
Narwhals live in the arctic regions around Russia, Greenland and North America. Unlike many other sea mammals, they prefer not to migrate.
tropical areas

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What is the gestation period for the narwhal?
six months
nine months
15 months
The female narwhal reaches sexual maturity at age 5 and has a gestation period of 15 months.

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What is the average life span for the narwhal?
30-40 years
A typical narwhal lives 30-40 years. The killer whale is the creature's only true predator, besides humans, of course.
40-50 years
50-60 years

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True or false: The narwhal tusk plays no role in feeding.
true
Researchers have discovered that narwhals with tusks eat the same diet as those with no tusks, indicating that the tusk plays no real role in feeding.
false

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Which of the typical male narwhal's teeth are longer?
They are both the same size.
right
left
For some inexplicable reason, the narwhal's left tooth is significantly larger than the right.

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How long is the average narwhal tusk?
8.8 feet (2.7 meters)
The average male narwhal tusk measures 8.8 feet.
12 feet
15.3 feet

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True or false: Narwhals prefer to live alone.
true
false
The narwhal is a social creature and often lives in a pod ranging from two to 10 members.

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What percent of female narwhals have a tusk?
3 percent
Just 3 percent of female narwhals have a long tusk or tooth like their male counterparts.
10 percent
50 percent

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What is the body fat percentage of a typical narwhal?
25 percent
35 percent
50 percent
Narwhals have a body fat percentage around 50 percent, which helps to keep them warm in arctic conditions. Most other whales have body fat in the 20-30 percent range.

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What is the only other creature in the Monodontidae family with the narwhal?
killer whale
sperm whale
beluga whale
The beluga whale is the narwhal's closest relative.

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True or false: The narwhal is an endangered species.
true
false
There are an estimated 80,000 narwhals on Earth, which puts them at near-threatened status, but they are not endangered.

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What happens to a narwhal's tusk if it gets broken?
The animal dies.
nothing
The tusk regenerates.
The amazing and unexplained narwhal tusk grows continuously and will regenerate when worn or broken.

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Which of these do narwhals lack?
fluke
eyes
dorsal fin
The narwhal has no dorsal fin but does have a ridge on its back where this fin would typically be located on a whale.

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What is narwhal skin called?
muktuk
Many Inuit people feed narwhal skin, or muktuk, to sled dogs, though some people also consume the skin.
mukrag
mushoo

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True or false: Narwhals have feeling in their tusks.
true
false
The narwhal has a whopping 10 million nerve endings in its tooth, allowing it to experience tremendous sensation through this appendage.

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True or false: The narwhal can use its tusk to detect changes in water temperature.
true
While people have long disagreed on the purpose of the narwhal tusk, scientists have only recently discovered that the tusk can detect changes in water pressure, temperature, salinity and particle content.
false

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True or false: The narwhal tusk is surprisingly flexible.
true
A narwhal tusk can bend up to 1 foot (30 centimeters) in any direction without breaking.
false

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How much did Queen Elizabeth pay for a narwhal tusk in the 16th century?
1,000 pounds
10,000 pounds
Narwhal tusks have long been prized for their magic or healing properties. Queen Elizabeth paid 10,000 pounds, the price of a castle, for a tusk back in the 16th century.
100,000 pounds

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True or false: The narwhal tusk is very smooth.
true
false
Narwhal tusks are often algae covered and have a spiral pattern — yes, like a unicorn.

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True or false: Narwhal tusks always spiral counterclockwise.
true
The spirals on a narwhal tusk always run counterclockwise, even on the rare creatures born with two tusks instead of one.
false

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How many teeth do narwhals have, other than one or two tusks?
none
Narwhal actually have no other teeth beyond their prominent tusks.
32
hundreds

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Narwhal skin is rich in this nutrient.
vitamin B
vitamin C
Narwhal skin has as much vitamin C as an orange, pound-for-pound, and has served an important role in the survival of the Inuit people over the years.
vitamin D

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True or false: Narwhals rarely survive in captivity.
true
Despite their intriguing appearance, you will rarely see a narwhal in an aquarium. In the past, the majority of these creatures have died after a few months in captivity.
false

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What color is an elderly narwhal?
black
white
Narwhals start off blue-gray and lighten as they age. Adults are a mottled gray, while elderly narwhals are almost entirely white.
gray

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True or false: It is illegal to sell narwhal tusk in the U.S.
true
Since 1972, it's been illegal to sell narwhal tusk in the U.S. Tusks brought into the country before that time go for around $1,700 per foot at auction.
false

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You Got:
/30
Dr. Kristin Laidre/Polar Science Center, UW/NOAA/OAR/OER
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