VANCOUVER, May 23, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - A scientific discovery of a sensory organ in rorqual whales would not have been possible without the use of FPInnovations' X-Ray Computerized Tomography scanner.
Based at its Vancouver, British Columbia facilities, FPInnovations' scanner, five metres in height, one-metre in width and capable of accommodating items up to two tonnes in weight, was the only machine in Canada large enough to accommodate the massive specimens.
University of British Columbia Zoology Professor Bob Shadwick says his team was excited to learn about the facility as it enabled them to clearly see the sensory organ without having to consider more invasive or less efficient investigative methods.
"We were pleased to work with FPInnovations' staff and their facility as it allowed us to quickly determine this finding that will enable us to better understand the basic functions of these top predators of the ocean," he added.
Rorquals are a subgroup of baleen whales - including blue, fin, minke and humpback whales - characterized by a special, accordion-like blubber layer that goes from the snout to the navel which is integral to the whale's unique lunge-feeding behavior.
The study, to be featured on the cover of the journal Nature tomorrow, details the discovery and analysis of an organ at the tip of the whale's chin, lodged in the ligamentous tissue that connects their two jaws.
"When we were approached to analyze this specimen, we were confident our scanner would provide Bob's team with the detailed information they required," says FPInnovations' Vice President Peter Lister. "Like this project and so many other large-scale ones we have conducted in the past, we look forward to utilizing our facility for many more projects that may require scanning of this magnitude."
FPInnovations' CT Imaging Centre was a joint project with the University of Northern British Columbia and funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation as well as the BC Knowledge Development Fund.
FPInnovations is a not-for-profit world leader that specializes in the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector's global competitiveness and responds to the priority needs of its industry members and government partners. It is ideally positioned to perform research, innovate and deliver state-of-the-art solutions for every area of the sector's value chain, from forest operations to consumer and industrial products. FPInnovations' staff numbers more than 550. Its R&D laboratories are located in Québec City, Ottawa, Montréal, Thunder Bay, Edmonton and Vancouver, and it has technology transfer offices across Canada. For more information about FPInnovations, visit: www.fpinnovations.ca.
For further information:
FPInnovations, Resource Group
Nicholas D. Pyenson