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Crazy Alphabet Challenge (with a twist): the letter M: Marsouin

source of the photo above:

I realize that I am posting more posts on this crazy alphabet challenge than one per week. I hope nobody minds (especially the creator of this challenge).

This post features the letter M with this word « Marsouin » which is a porpoise in English. This particular animal is a vertebrae marine mammal. The common porpoise (cetacea) is the most known of the family Phocoenidae and was often referred in the old French as « cochons des mers » or “marine pigs” and sometimes as « dieux de la mer » translated in English as “gods of the seas”. 

Porpoises are in reality small toothed whales and are closely related to oceanic dolphins. The difference between the two resides first in their weight and length. Dolphins (who are from the Delphinidae family) are generally longer and bigger than « marsouins ». In fact a porpoise is about one half the lenght and weight of a dolphin. 

The second difference resides in the form of the beak and head. The dolphin has a longer and finely chiseled beak while the porpoise’s head and beak are more rounded out. 

The third difference is best seen in the teeth of both these marine mammals. The dolphins has conical teeth while the « marsouins » have teeth that look more like spatulas or spades.

Finally the fourth difference is seen in the fins. The porpoise’s pectoral fins are smaller than the dolphin’s. The dorsal fins of the « marsouin » is straight and more rectangular resembling almost a shark’s dorsal fin while the dolphin’s dorsal fin is bigger, in a wave form and more curved towards the back of the dolphin. 

Below is a picture of the porpoise on the left and a dolphin on the right.

Another interesting aspect of the « marsouin » is that it has evolved from the same prehistoric Artiodactyla, notably the Artiofabula as the hippopotamus tylopoda and is thus remotely related to this big beast of Africa. 

Porpoises mostly reside in the temperate or cold water of the Northern Atlantic just as much on the Northern American hemisphere as in Europe. Their diet consists of fish including herring, capelins, certain crustaceans and sardines. They are also known to eat algae. Porpoises are mostly hunted by sharks and orca whales. But their most dangerous predator remains humans who brings along pollution and fishing nets where the pourpoise sometimes gets caught but also hunts « marsouins » for their different organs (like their bladder in Chinese medicine just like the notation below the above picture) and their meat. It is to be noted that porpoises have been, so far, unable to survive or breed in zoos. 

The French word « marsouin » was borrowed from the old scandinavian word “marsvin” (sea pigs). The oldest French word for the « marsouin » was « pourpois » (meaning pig-fish) which later evolved in the English word “porpoise”. 

The pronounciation of the word « marsouin » is pretty simple. The first part of the word « mar » is pronounced just like it is written and sounds just like the “mar” in “margin”. The second part « sou » sounds just like the “sou” of the word soufflé. The last part « in » is just like “in” but sounding more like “end” (without the d) and without elocuting the letter n.

Well that’s it for the letter M. See you again in the next installment of the crazy alphabet challenge with the letter N. 


What do you think?

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Written by HistoryGal

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    • I agree with you 100%. Man is most of the animals’ worst enemy. But Mother Nature is also kicking in with the melting of the North Pole. Polar bears are really suffering… Thanks for visiting and commenting and up voting…

  1. I doubt they have these for marine animals shows. They have usually dolphins, orca whales and seals but the porpoise (« marsouins ») most of the time do not survive or reproduce in captivity. At least that is what I read… Thanks for reading, commenting and up voting. I have had that post in suspension for about a week now. It is nice to see that it is published finally.

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