Skeleton of a young male of sperm whale, more than 11 meters long, recovered in 1892 from Sicily, near Marsala. The sperm whale has an unmistakable large, square head that contains a spongy tissue soaked with oil and waxes. The Italian name “Capodoglio”, i.e. “head full of oil”, comes from the presence of such fat substances, very sought after by the industry, that stimulated in the past a massive hunt to this cetacean, today strictly protected by international laws. It bears, on the lower jaw only, 20-26 pairs of teeth 8 to 20 cm long and weighting almost one kilogram each. The sperm whale, which is the largest living predator, prefers deep waters and is widespread in the seas of the whole world, from the poles to the tropics; in Italy it is reported more frequently in the western Mediterranean, especially the Tyrrhenian Sea.


  • Title: Sperm whale skeleton
  • Rights: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia Photo by Barbara Favaretto - MSNVE
  • Scientific name: Physeter macrocephalus
  • Origin: Italy, Sicily, Trapani, Marsala, Grande Island
  • Date: November 1892
  • Catalogue number: MSNVE-17797

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