• common minke whale;
  • skull;
  • development;
  • allometry


We investigated growth-related and sex-related morphological changes in the skulls of 144 North Pacific common minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Measurement was conducted at 39 points on the skull and mandible to extract individual allometric equations relating the length and zygomatic width of the skull. The results revealed no significant differences in skull morphology by sex except for width of occipital bone. The size relative to the skull of the anatomical parts involved in feeding, such as the rostrum and mandible, increased after birth. In contrast, the sensory organs and the anatomical regions involved in neurological function, such as the orbit, tympanic bullae, and foramen magnum, were fully developed at birth, and their relative size reduced over the course of development. This is the first study to investigate developmental changes in the skull morphology using more than 100 baleen whale specimens, and we believe the results of this study will contribute greatly to multiple areas of baleen whale research, including taxonomy and paleontology. J. Morphol. 275:1113–1121, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.