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Whale Earwax Offers Opportunity For Unique Insight

By | April 28, 2014 - 5:27 pm

A biologist from Baylor University in Texas has discovered a unique way to determine changes in hormone and contaminant levels in baleen whales – through their ear wax. Stephen Trumble is a whale biologist who studied at UAF. He says museums have collected these earwax plugs for a century and the Smithsonian alone has more than 500. They are commonly used to determine a whales’ age – like tree rings.

But three years ago an environmental chemist suggested to Trumble the wax plugs were also like sediment cores. It was a moment of insight.

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