Despite its name, the false killer whale is not a close relative of the killer whale (Orcinus orca), and, in fact, any resemblance between the two species is relatively superficial (2) (4) (5). The false killer whale's body is long and slender, with a tall, backwardly curving dorsal fin and uniquely shaped flippers that possess a large bulge at the midpoint reminiscent of an elbow (6) (7). The head tapers into a long, rounded snout, which overhangs the lower jaw and is marked with a crease running above the mouthline (7). The jaws are armed with 8 to 11 pairs of formidable-looking, large, conical teeth, from which the species derives its Latin name crassidens, meaning “thick-tooth” (7). The colouration is almost uniformly black, with the exception of faint grey marks on the heads of some individuals and a whitish chest patch located between the flippers (4) (7).
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