A lot to be learned from whales' earwax?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by Molly Meserve

Did you ever think EARWAX could be a useful tool in scientific research? Well, it turns out scientists can learn a lot about whales’ lives through analyzing their earwax!

Some whales build up earwax over time into earplugs that have dark and light bands (sort of like the rings on a tree). This not only reveals the age of an individual whale, but the levels of pollutants or stress hormones they have been exposed to over time.  

 Tree rings

Up to this point gathering lifetime information on a whale’s exposure to chemicals, like mercury, has been quite difficult. This new method will only help scientists continue to uncover the secrets of our oceans for future generations. Who knew earwax could be so COOL!

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