Baleen plates comprise the hundreds of coarse bristles within the whale's mouth. The number of these plates varies depending on the type of whale. Composed of keratin, a material similar to that found in human hair and fingernails, the plates become worn down over time by the whale's tongue, but they grow back. Baleen bristles also come in different thicknesses and lengths; however, they are perfect for filtering the whale's food.
A slaughtered whale shows off its baleen aboard a whaling vessel.
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