baleen

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Related to Baleen plate: bowhead whale

baleen

or

whalebone

horny plates which hang from the roof of the mouth in some whales (Mysticeti), e.g. right whales and rorquals. The plates filter out krill (small shrimplike crustaceans) from the sea water as it is forced out of the mouth.
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Its distinguishing features include a broad, flat skull and a small number of baleen plates.
The new species, named Balaenoptera omurai, also has an unusually- shaped head and a small number of baleen plates.
Travelling inside the whale's mouth, 3-D images show how teeth have formed huge baleen plates which act like sieves, filtering out 70 tons of water from the throat pouch, and how the whale's tongue brushes industrial quantities of krill down its throat.
Most huge marine creatures are so-called `filterfeeders' -- that is, they obtain their foods from the surrounding seawater by straining it through a series of baleen plates in their jaws.
The right whale lumbers along with its mouth half open filtering out plankton, its food, through the baleen plates.
While massive in size--45 feet in length and weighing an average of 70,000 pounds--they eat only small fish and krill by using large filter-like baleen plates.