Above weights are given for mature male giant sperm whales. Females only weigh about 1/3 as much as males. Males may reach 19 m while females are only 12 meters. Newborn calves measure about 4 m and are about 1/25 the weight of females.
The enormous (up to 1/3 of total body length), box-like head of Physeter catodon sets it apart from all other species. The head contains a spermaceti organ whose function is not entirely known. It may serve to focus and reflect sound or may be a cooling organ to diminish the whale's volume and its buoyancy during prolonged dives. The giant sperm whale has the largest of mammalian brains in terms of sheer mass (approximately 9 kg). The blowhole slit is S-shaped and positioned on the left side of the head. There are 18-28 functional teeth on each side of the lower jaws, but the upper teeth are few, weak and nonfunctional. The lower teeth fit into sockets in the upper jaw. The gullet of Physeter catodon is the largest among cetaceans; it is in fact the only gullet large enough to swallow a human.
The dorsal fin is replaced by a hump and by a series of longitudinal ridges on the posterior part of the back, and the pectoral fins are quite small, approximately 200 cm. long. Tail flukes are 400-450 cm. The blubber layer of the giant sperm whale is quite thick, up to 35 cm. With respect to coloration, males often become paler and sometimes piebald with age. Both sexes have white in the genital and anal regions and on the lower jaws.
Range mass: 35000 to 50000 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger