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Porpoise Epiphysis


Epiphysis of a juvenile porpoise. Taken from the Potomac River

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Porpoises are a group of fully aquatic marine mammals, all of which are classified under the family Phocoenidae, parvorder Odontoceti (toothed whales). Although similar in appearance to dolphins, they are more closely related to narwhals and belugas than to the true dolphins. There are eight extant species of porpoise, all among the smallest of the toothed whales. Porpoises are distinguished from dolphins by their flattened, spade-shaped teeth distinct from the conical teeth of dolphins, and lack of a pronounced beak, although some dolphins also lack a pronounced beak. Porpoises, and other cetaceans, belong to the clade Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates.

Porpoises have two flippers on the front and a tail fin. Their flippers contain four digits. Although porpoises do not possess fully developed hind limbs, they possess discrete rudimentary appendages, which may contain feet and digits.

The Epiphysis is the cap at the end of a long bone that develops from the secondary ossification center.


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