General Growth Laws

Part of the Advances in Polar Ecology book series (AVPE, volume 5)


The following topics are considered in this chapter:



The graphic, correlation and regression analysis of embryo sizes have proved that cetaceans are not an exception to the class of mammals, so the common rule for their prenatal growth is also parabolic:
  • Pygmy blue whales- l = 5.39 t1.90

  • Fin whales – l = 5.72 t1.95

  • Sei whales- l = 4.52 t1.98

  • Minke whales – l = 2.91 t2.03

  • Humpbacks – l = 3.84 t2.02

Growth among the representatives of baleen whales is similar. The intensity of cetacean weight growth coefficient is much higher (Cw = 5.5), than that of other mammals and birds.

Differences in individual rates of growth of cetacean embryos are significant, and by birth the difference in sizes is more than 20%. A large comparative variability (CV) of sizes is shown in younger embryos. The size of the same-aged embryos depends on the size of their mothers.
  • Fin whales – l = 0.00175 L2.33

  • Sei whales- l = l = 0.00139 L2.70

  • Minke whales – l = l = 0.00187 L2.45

Thus the same-aged female embryos overtake male embryos in their rate of growth.

While the embryo is developing, both whales and terrestrial mammals have uterine development periods: the established moments of qualitative changes correspond to the end of germinal, pre-fetus and the beginning of fetus periods. Tables for the definition of whale embryo age are composed on the basis of the occurrence of one or other morphological attributes.

An insignificant difference in the amount of Ca in dark and light layers of sperm whale teeth has been found by means of atomic and adsorption methods.

The amount of Ca in the teeth of females is less than that of males. In cement it is twice as much as that found in the dentine. Optical density of layers is determined not so much by the content of carbonic salts but by a different organization of collagen fibrils and by features of the structure of albuminous stromas.

A subjective (qualitative) estimation of the number of annual stratifications in recording structures does not give reliable results. Quantitative estimation of stratifications, with the help of graphs that record tooth structure, has enabled the annual amount of gain to be determined more precisely.

An original method has been developed for the comparison of profilograms, enabling the amount of annual stratifications to be determined, that is to determine the age of whales.

The post-natal growth curves of whales are described thus:

Whale types



Pygmy blue whales

L = 12.5 (t−1.0)0.081 + 0.003 + 5.0

L = 12.09 (t−1.0)0.012 + 0.003 + 5.0

Minke whales

L = 8.09 (t−5.0)0.02 + 0.001

L = 8.54 (t−5.0)0.018 + 0.001


L = 10.7 (t−1.0)0.07 + 0.002

L = 10.0 (t−1.0)0.12 + 0.002

Sperm whales

L = 10, 6 (t−7.0)0.122 + 0.002

L = 9.17 (t−3.0)0.052 + 0.003

Growth curves enable judgements about the life expectancy of whales, and the time of sexual and physical maturity to be determined.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Marine Biology of National Academy of UkraineOdessaUkraine

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