The mechanical properties of the tissues of the tusk of a narwhal Monodon monoceros, their histological arrangement, and the gross anatomy of the tusk were examined. The histology of the tusk shows various toughening mechanisms. The tusk tissues are of low stiffness, but are very tough, suiting the tusks for loading on impact, but not for longitudinal loading. These mechanical properties suggest the possible functions of the tusk, namely to be long in order to be sexually attractive, while being tough in order to withstand ‘testing’ blows from other males.