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Discovery Magazine 1/1/2009

The Wonderous Walrus (and His Terrific Tusks)

The walrus is a huge pinniped (“pinni” means wing or fin, and “pedis” means foot), that lives in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The walrus is famous for its tusks, which can grow to four feet long in males. But these enormous canine teeth are not just for show. God created the walrus’ tusks with several important jobs in mind.

First, the walrus uses tusks for support. The teeth grip the edge of the ice, hold the walrus in place, and even haul him up onto the ice. This is particularly amazing, because walrus can weigh over 3,000 pounds, and are eight to 12 feet long. The tusks also are perfect for poking holes in ice to allow the walrus to breathe (he can hold his breath for 30 minutes). Furthermore, the walrus uses his tusks to establish dominance during the breeding season. The walrus with the longest tusks are in charge of the herd. The walrus uses its tusks to defend itself against predators, such as polar bears and killer whales.

There’s one other thing we quickly notice when we look at the walrus: the wrinkled, rough, thick skin that stretches over the walrus’s whopping body. The skin can be a full six inches thick, and is covered with short hair. The thick skin, along with the walrus’s high amount of blubber (fat), protects the walrus from freezing temperatures in the Arctic. 

Yet another amazing thing about the walrus is invisible from outside. The walrus has two air sacs in his throat. This allows him to keep his head comfortably above water, just as if he had a floatation device attached to his neck. Therefore, a walrus can sleep in the water without worrying about drowning. The air sacs also allow the male walrus to make a bell-like sound to attract females.

The powerful, peculiar walrus did not simply “decide” to develop his tusk, skin, and special respiratory system. God, nature’s great Designer, provided the walrus with the best characteristics for survival.

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