Twitter symbol A stylized bird v an open mouth, tweeting. Twitter LinkedIn icon The word "in". LinkedIn Fliboard symbol A stylized letter F. Flipboard connect icon an image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url. Copy attach

AP Biologists have actually unravelled why deep diving mammals such as sperm whales deserve to hold their breath for over an hour as soon as diving for food – they have electrically fee proteins in their blood. The researchers think the detect may explain why some sea mammals space able to make such lengthy underwater dives while various other mammals deserve to only host their breath for a couple of minutes.

You are watching: How long can whales hold their breath

Sperm whales make several of the longest dives achieved by mammals, through some lasting up to 90 minutes, when dolphins and other whales can stay underwater for 20 minutes.

The longest time a human has actually held their breath because that under water is 19 minutes – set by a Swiss freediver called Peter Colat.

Scientists at the college of Liverpool analysed a distinctive molecule signature of a protein called myoglobin, which binding oxygen in blood, native 100 different mammal species.

They uncovered that in deep diving mammals prefer sperm whales the became much more electrically charged.

This charge causes the protein to repel each other, avoiding them from forming clumps that have the right to impede their ability to lug oxygen.

The researchers say this method sperm whales deserve to pack an ext myoglobin right into their muscles there is no harming your efficiency.

Dr Scott Mirceta, one of the biologists behind the research, said: "Our study suggests that the increased electric charge that myoglobin in mammals that have high concentration of this protein reasons electro-repulsion, like comparable poles of two magnets.

“This have to prevent the proteins from sticking together and permit much higher concentrations the the oxygen-storing myoglobin in the muscle of these divers."

Myoglobin frequently gives meat and blood that red colour is discovered in very high concentrations in the muscles of mammals the hunt in the deep ocean. This reasons their muscles to be practically black in colour.

The research, which is released in the journal Science, might also assist to boost understanding of human illness where proteins clump together, such together in alzheimer Disease.

It may also assist the development of artificial blood substitutes.

Dr Michael Berenbrink, that led the examine at the college of Liverpool’s institute of Integrative Biology, said it was also permitting scientists to trace the evolutionary history of mammals.

He said: "We learned the electric charge top top the surface ar of myoglobin and found the it enhanced in mammals that have the right to dive underwater for lengthy periods the time.

“We were surprised once we witnessed the same molecular signature in whales and seals, but also in semi-aquatic beavers, muskrats and also even water shrews.

See more: How Much Does A Crane Weigh ? I Know They Have What Does The Tonnage Of A Crane Mean

"By mapping this molecule signature top top the household tree of mammals, us were able to reconstruct the muscle oxygen stores in extinction ancestors that today"s diving mammals.

“We were also able to report the very first evidence that a common amphibious ancestor of modern sea cows, hyraxes and also elephants that stayed in shallow african waters some 65 million years ago."

By click ‘Sign up’, friend agree to receive marketing emails indigenous Insider and also other companion offers and also accept our regards to Service and Privacy Policy.
Close symbol Two crossed lines that type an "X". It shows a method to nearby an interaction, or dismiss a notification.