Spade-toothed whale - Mesoplodon traversii

Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Scientific Name Mesoplodon traversii
Author (Gray, 1874)
Taxonomic Rank Species
Taxonomic # 612598
Common Names French: baleine à bec de Travers
Dutch: spade-tand spitssnuitdolfijn
English: Spade-toothed Whale
Spanish: zifio de Travers
Current Standing valid
Taxonomic Parents Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Subphylum: Vertebrata
      Class: Mammalia
        Subclass: Theria
          Infraclass: Eutheria
            Order: Cetacea
              Suborder: Odontoceti
                Family: Hyperoodontidae
                  Genus: Mesoplodon
Taxonomic Children
Synonyms (since 1950)

Taxonomic data is courtesy of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS)
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Physical Description / Field Identification

Nothing is known of the external appearance of this species of beaked whale, except that adult males have a large tusk erupting from each side of the lower jaw. The tusks lean backwards at an angle of about 45°, and are spade-shaped, with prominent denticles at the tip.

Can be Confused With

Spade-toothed beaked whales are most likely to be confused with strap-toothed beaked whales, from which they can be distinguished by the detailed structure of the male's tusks and cranial features. This will require expert examination.


The three specimens so far examined have come from New Zealand (two) and Chile. Therefore, this is probably a Southern Hemisphere species.

Ecology and Behavior

Nothing is known of the biology and behavior of this species, which is known only from two skulls and the mandibles and teeth from a third.

Feeding and Prey

Nothing is known of the diet, other than an assumption that squid are the main prey.

Threats and Status

Nothing is known of the status of the species. Currently, the spade-toothed whale is “Not Listed” (IUCN) and “Not Listed” (ESA).



Dalebout, M.L. 2002. Species identity, genetic diversity, and molecular systematic relationships among the Ziphiidae (beaked whales). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Pitman, R.L. 2002. Mesoplodont whales Mesoplodon spp. pp. 738-742 in W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig and J.G.M. Thewissen (eds.), Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press.

Reyes, J., K. Van Waerebeek, J.C. Cardenas and J.L. Yanez. 1995. Mesoplodon bahamondi sp. n. (Cetacea, Ziphiidae), a new living beaked whale from the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, Chile. Boletin de Museum Nacional de History Natural, Chile 45:31-44.

Van Helden, A.L., A.N. Baker, M.L. Dalebout, J.C. Reyes, K. Van Waerebeek and C.S. Baker. 2002. Resurrection of Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874), senior synonym of M. bahamondi Reyes, Van Waerebeek, Cardenas and Yanez, 1995 (Cetacea Ziphiidae). Marine Mammal Science 18:609-621.

ITIS TSN612598
Status - ESA, U.S. FWS
Status - Red List, IUCN
    DD (Global)
#records (spatial)1
#records (non-spatial)0
Latitude-37.98 - -37.98
Longitude177.42 - 177.42
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