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Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Cetartiodactyla
Ordo: Cetacea
Subordo: Mysticeti
Familia: Balaenopteridae
Genera: †Archaebalaenoptera - Balaenoptera - Megaptera


Balaenopteridae (Gray, 1864)


* Balaenopteridae on Mammal species of the World.
* Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World : A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2-volume set(3rd ed).

Vernacular names
English: Rorquals
한국어: 긴수염고래과


Rorquals (pronounced /ˈrɔrkwəl/) are the largest group of baleen whales, with nine species in two genera. They include the largest animal that has ever lived, the Blue Whale, which can reach 150 tonnes (170 short tons), and two others that easily pass 50 tonnes (55 short tons); even the smallest of the group, the Northern Minke Whale, reaches 9 tonnes (9.9 short tons).


Rorquals take their name from French rorqual, which itself derives from the Norwegian word røyrkval, meaning "furrow whale".[2] All members of the family have a series of longitudinal folds of skin running from below the mouth back to the navel (except the Sei Whale, which has shorter grooves). These are understood to allow the mouth to expand immensely when feeding. The "Minke" is allegedly named after a Norwegian whaler named Meincke, who mistook a Northern Minke Whale for a Blue Whale.[3] [4]

Rorquals are slender and streamlined in shape, compared with their relatives the right whales, and most have narrow, elongated flippers. They have a dorsal fin, situated far back on the body, near to the tail. Rorquals feed by gulping in water, and then pushing it out through the baleen plates with their tongue. They feed on crustaceans, such as krill, but also on various fish, such as herrings and sardines.[5]

Gestation in rorquals lasts 11–12 months, so that both mating and birthing occur at the same time of year. Mothers give birth to a single young, which is weaned after 6–12 months, depending on species.[5] Of some species, adults live in small herds, or "pods" of two to five individuals. For example, Humpback whales have a fluid social structure, often engaging behavioral practices in a pod, other times being solo—not necessarily living together.

Distribution and habitat

Distribution is worldwide: the Blue, Fin, Humpback, and the Sei Whales are found in all major oceans; the Common (Northern) and Antarctic (Southern) Minke Whale species are found in all the oceans of their respective hemispheres; and either of Bryde's Whale and Eden's Whale occur in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, being absent only from the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic.

Most rorquals are strictly oceanic: the exceptions are Bryde's Whale and Eden's Whale (which are usually found close to shore all year round) and the Humpback Whale (which is oceanic but passes close to shore when migrating). It is the largest and the smallest types—the Blue Whale and Antarctic Minke Whale—that occupy the coldest waters in the extreme south; the Fin Whale tends not to approach so close to the ice shelf; the Sei Whale tends to stay further north again. (In the northern hemisphere, where the continents distort weather patterns and ocean currents, these movements are less obvious, although still present.) Within each species, the largest individuals tend to approach the poles more closely, while the youngest and fittest ones tend to stay in warmer waters before leaving on their annual migration.

Most rorquals breed in temperate waters during the winter, then migrate back to the polar feeding grounds rich in plankton and krill for the short polar summer.


Formerly the rorqual family Balaenopteridae was split into two subfamilies, Balaenopterinae and Megapterinae, with each subfamily contained one genus, Balaenoptera and Megaptera respectively. However, the phylogeny of the various rorqual species shows the current division is paraphyletic, and in 2005 the division into subfamilies was dropped.[6]

The discovery of a new species in Balaenopteridae, Balaenoptera omurai, was announced in November 2003, which looks similar to, if smaller than, the Fin Whale were found in Indo-Pacific waters.

* Family Balaenopteridae: Rorquals

* Cetotheriophanes capellinii (extinct)
* Diunatans luctoretemergo (extinct)
* Parabalaenoptera baulinensis (extinct)
* Plesiobalaenoptera quarantellii (extinct)
* Plesiocetus garopii (extinct)

* Subfamily Balaenopterinae

* Genus Balaenoptera
o Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus
o Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis
o Bryde's Whale, Balaenoptera brydei
o Eden's Whale, Balaenoptera edeni
o Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus
o Common Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata
o Antarctic Minke Whale, Balaenoptera bonaerensis
o Balaenoptera omurai, discovery announced November 2003. No common name yet in usage

* Subfamily Megapterinae

* Genus Megaptera
o Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae


1. ^ Mead, James G.; Brownell, Robert L., Jr. (16 November 2005). "Order Cetacea (pp. 723-743)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14300010.
2. ^ "Etymology of mammal names". IberiaNature - Natural history facts and trivia. http://www.iberianature.com/trivia/etymology_mammals.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
3. ^ "Dictionary.com". http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/minke. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
4. ^ Lazarus, Sarah (2006). Troubled Waters: The Changing Fortunes of Whales and Dolphins. CSIRO Publishing. http://www.publish.csiro.au/samples/TW%20pages%2079-86.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
5. ^ a b Gambell, Ray (1984). Macdonald, D. ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 222–225. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.
6. ^ Deméré, T.A.; Berta, A.; McGowen, M.R. (2005). "The taxonomic and evolutionary history of fossil and modern balaenopteroid mysticetes". Journal of Mammalian Evolution 12 (1/2): 99–143. doi:10.1007/s10914-005-6944-3.

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