Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup

The use of modern scannings techniques in whale research: possibilities and limitations

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterResearchpeer-review

Scanning techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are useful tools in veterinary and human medicine. However, they can also be used for investigations of wild marine mammals, such as whales. Here, I will describe three examples of how we have used scanning for investigations of resente and extinct whales.
CT to describe bone changes
Necropsy of a stranded fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) revealed that two vertebrae were fused. By CT it was possible to show periosteal exostoses on the mid-ventral and ventro-lateral aspects of the vertebral body. As none of the other pathological findings can account convincingly for the stranding of the whale, it is possible that the found ankylosing spondylosis may have constrained spinal mobility and contributed to its stranding.
MRI and CT to describe anatomy
MRI and CT scans of sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) teeth were performed and compared with each other and to current standard methods for evaluation of tooth layering. For CT two different clinical scanners were used. The three scanners did not provide sufficient information to allow age determination, but both MRI and CT provided anatomical information about the tooth cortex and medulla without the need for sectioning the teeth. MRI scanning was also employed for visualizing the vascularization of an intact eye from a stranded sperm whale, and it possible to describe the in situ vascularization.
CT to describe anatomy of fossil whales
We have used CT scanning to examine the skulls of several fossil whales (7 to 30 million year old). CT scans provided information about the cranial bone structure, including bone sutures on the well preserved inside. This information was valuable for determining the species of whales. In addition, CT scans can be used by conservators to plan the subsequent preservation of the fossils and to document sediment placement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year1 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Event31st Annual Conference, European Cetacean Society - Hindsgavl Slot, Middelfart, Denmark
Duration: 29 Apr 20173 May 2017


Conference31st Annual Conference, European Cetacean Society
LocationHindsgavl Slot
Internet address

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