Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. When dried, the fruit is known as a peppercorn, when fresh and fully mature, it is approximately 5 millimetres in diameter, dark red, like all drupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the ground pepper derived from them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper, green pepper, black pepper is native to south India and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. Currently, Vietnam is the worlds largest producer and exporter of pepper, dried ground pepper has been used since antiquity for both its flavour and as a traditional medicine. Black pepper is the worlds most traded spice and it is one of the most common spices added to cuisines around the world. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine, black pepper is ubiquitous in the modern world as a seasoning and is often paired with salt.
The word pepper has its roots in the Tamil word for long pepper, todays pepper derives from the Old English pipor. and from Latin which was the source of Romanian piper, Italian pepe, Dutch peper, German Pfeffer, French poivre, and other similar forms. In the 16th century, pepper started referring to the unrelated New World chili pepper as well, Pepper was used in a figurative sense to mean spirit or energy at least as far back as the 1840s, in the early 20th century, this was shortened to pep. Black pepper is produced from the still-green, unripe drupes of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to them and to prepare them for drying, the heat ruptures cell walls in the pepper. The drupes are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, once dried, the spice is called black peppercorn. On some estates, the berries are separated from the stem by hand, once the peppercorns are dried, pepper spirit and oil can be extracted from the berries by crushing them.
Pepper spirit is used in medicinal and beauty products. Pepper oil is used as an ayurvedic massage oil and used in certain beauty. White pepper consists solely of the seed of the pepper plant and this is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where fully ripe red pepper berries are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens and decomposes. Rubbing removes what remains of the fruit, and the seed is dried. Sometimes alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, ground white pepper is used in Chinese and Thai cuisine, but in salads, cream sauces, light-coloured sauces, and mashed potatoes. White pepper has a different flavour from black pepper, it lacks certain compounds present in the layer of the drupe
Vinaigrette is made by mixing an oil with something acidic such as vinegar or lemon juice. The mixture can be enhanced with salt, herbs and/or spices and it is used most commonly as a salad dressing, but can be used as a marinade. Vinaigrette is the form of the French word vinaigre. It was commonly known as dressing in the 19th century. In general, vinaigrette consists of 3 parts of oil to 1 part of vinegar whisked into an emulsion and pepper are often added. Herbs and shallots are added, especially when it is used for cooked vegetables or grains, sometimes mustard is used as an emulsifier and to add flavour. Some vinaigrettes use a small amount of sweetener, such as maple syrup, vinaigrette may be made with a variety of oils and vinegars. Olive oil and neutral vegetable oils such as oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil. In northern France, it may be made with oil and cider vinegar. In the United States, vinaigrettes may include a range of additions such as lemon, raspberries, garlic.
Cheese, parmesan or blue cheese being the most common, may be added, commercially bottled versions may include emulsifiers such as lecithin. In Southeast Asia, rice bran oil and white vinegar are used as a foundation with fresh herbs, chili peppers, different vinegars, such as raspberry, create different flavors, and lemon juice or alcohol, such as sherry, may be used instead of vinegar. Balsamic vinaigrette is made by adding an amount of balsamic vinegar to a simple vinaigrette of olive oil. In Brazil, a mix between olive oil, alcohol vinegar, tomatoes and sometimes bell peppers is called vinagrete and it is served on Brazilian churrasco, commonly on Sundays. In classical French cuisine, a vinaigrette is used as a dressing and, as a cold sauce, accompanies cold artichokes, asparagus. Vinaigrette gave its name to a salad in Russian cuisine called vinegret
A scroll, known as a roll, is a roll of papyrus, parchment, or paper containing writing. The scroll is usually unrolled so that one page is exposed at a time, for writing or reading, with the remaining pages rolled up to the left and right of the visible page. It is unrolled side to side, and the text is written in lines from the top to the bottom of the page. Depending on the language, the letters may be left to right, right to left. Some scrolls are simply rolled up pages, others may have wooden rollers on each end, scrolls were the first form of editable record keeping texts, used in Eastern Mediterranean ancient Egyptian civilizations. Parchment scroll used by Israelites after Sinai was the first use of scrolls in the recording of literature before the codex or bound book with pages was invented by the Latins in the 1st century AD. Scrolls were more highly regarded than codices until well into Roman times where they were written in single latitudinal column. The ink used in writing scrolls had to adhere to a surface that was rolled and unrolled, even so, ink would slowly flake off of scrolls.
Shorter pieces of parchment or paper are called rolls or rotuli, historians of the classical period tend to use roll instead of scroll. A distinction that sometimes applies is that the lines of writing in rotuli run across the width of the rather than along the length. Rolls may be wider than most scrolls, up to perhaps 60 cm or two feet wide, Rolls were often stored together in a special cupboard on shelves. A special Chinese form of book, called the whirlwind book, consists of several pieces of paper bound at the top with bamboo. In Scotland, the term scrow was used from about the 13th to the 17th centuries for scroll, there existed an office of Clerk of the Scrow meaning the Clerk of the Rolls or Clerk of the Register. The scroll was replaced by the codex, a process which started almost as soon as the codex was invented. Unfortunately, scrolls were usually discarded after their contents were transferred to a codex, most scrolls uncovered by archaeologists are found in trash middens and burial sites.
The oldest complete Torah scroll was discovered in May 2013 by Professor Mauro Perani. It was stored in a library in Bolonia, Italy. It had been mislabeled in 1889 as dating from the 17th century, carbon testing dates the prayer book to the year 840, which is 300 to 400 years earlier than the previously oldest known Torah scrolls from the 12th and 13th centuries
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae, particularly Cucurbita and Lagenaria or the fruit of the two genera of Bignoniaceae calabash tree and Amphitecna. The term refers to a number of species and subspecies, many with hard shells, likely one of the earliest domesticated types of plants, subspecies of the bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria, have been discovered in archaeological sites dating from as early as 13,000 BC. Gourds have had numerous uses throughout history, including as tools, musical instruments, objects of art, gourd is occasionally used to describe crop plants in the family Cucurbitaceae, like pumpkins, squash and melons. More specifically, gourd refers to the fruits of plants in the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita, or to their hollow, dried-out shell, a gourd can have a hard shell when dehydrated. There are many different gourds worldwide, the main plants referred to as gourds include several species from the Cucurbita genus, Crescentia cujete and Lagenaria siceraria.
The bitter melon/balsam apple/balsam pear is referred to as a gourd. L. siceraria was brought to Europe and the Americas very early in history, being found in Peruvian archaeological sites dating from 13,000 to 11,000 BC and Thailand sites from 11,000 to 6,000 BC. The gourds found in the Americas appear to have come from the Asian subspecies, very early in history, a new study now indicates Africa. The archaeological and DNA records show it likely that the gourd was among the first domesticated species, gourds continued to be used throughout history, in almost every culture throughout the world. European contact in North America found extensive use, including the use of bottle gourds as birdhouses to attract purple martins. Almost every culture had musical instruments made of gourds, including drums, stringed instruments common to Africa and wind instruments and these include Teasle gourd, Spine gourd, Sweet gourd, balsam apple and Momordica sahyadrica. Cultures from arid regions often associated gourds with water, and they appear in creation myths.
Since the beginning of their history, they have had a multitude of uses, including food, kitchen tools, musical instruments and decoration. Today, gourds are used for a wide variety of crafts, including jewelry, dishes, utensils. The Chinese developed a technique of tying a two-part mould around young gourds, or a part of them, so that the gourd grew into the mould, shaped gourds had various decorative uses, especially as boxes and other containers. The Luffa gourds, Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula, have been used throughout recent history as scrubbing sponge and this is prepared by removing the skin and pulp from the gourd, and bleaching the fibers. A güiro is a Latin American percussion instrument made from a gourd, maracas are percussion instruments often made from gourds. A sitar is a stringed instrument, parts of which are made from gourds
Satureja is a genus of aromatic plants of the family Lamiaceae, related to rosemary and thyme. It is native to North Africa and southeastern Europe, the Middle East, a few New World species were formerly included in Satureja, but they have all been moved to other genera. Several species are cultivated as culinary herbs called savory, and they have established in the wild in a few places. Satureja species may be annual or perennial and they are low-growing herbs and subshrubs, reaching heights of 15–50 cm. The leaves are 1–3 cm long, with flowers forming in whorls on the stem, Satureja species are food plants for the larva of some Lepidoptera. Caterpillars of the moth Coleophora bifrondella feed exclusively on winter savory, savory may be grown purely for ornamental purposes, members of the genus need sun and well-drained soil. Both summer savory and winter savory are used to flavor food, the former is preferred by cooks but as an annual is only available in summer, winter savory is an evergreen perennial.
Savory plays an important part in Georgian and Italian cuisine and it is used to season the traditional Acadian stew known as fricot. Savory is a key ingredient in sarmale, a stuffed cabbage dish in traditional Romanian cuisine, the modern spice mixture Herbes de Provence has savory as one of the principal ingredients. In Azerbaijan, savory is often incorporated as a flavoring in black tea, - Iran, Caucasus Satureja intricata Lange - Spain Satureja isophylla Rech. f. - Iran Satureja kallarica Jamzad - Iran Satureja kermanshahensis Jamzad - Iran Satureja khuzistanica Jamzad - Iran Satureja kitaibelii Wierzb. - Bulgaria, Yugoslavia Satureja laxiflora K. Koch - Iran, Turkey, - Iran, Turkey, Caucasus Satureja metastasiantha Rech. f. - Iraq Satureja montana L. – winter savory - southern Europe, Turkey, - Caucasus, Turkmenistan Satureja nabateorum Danin & Hedge - Jordan Satureja × orjenii Šilic - Yugoslavia Satureja pallaryi J. Thiébaut - Syria Satureja parnassica Heldr. - Greece, Turkey Satureja pilosa Velen, - Italy, Bulgaria Satureja rumelica Velen.
- Iran Satureja salzmannii P. W. Ball - Morocco, - Turkey, Caucasus Satureja spinosa L. - Turkey, Greek Islands including Crete Satureja subspicata Bartl. - Austria, Albania, Italy Satureja taurica Velen, - Crimea Satureja thymbra L. - Libya, southeastern Europe from Sardinia to Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine Satureja thymbrifolia Hedge & Feinbrun - Israel, Saudi Arabia Satureja visianii Šilic. = Clinopodium chilense Govaerts Satureja mexicana Briq, = Clinopodium mexicanum Govaerts Satureja multiflora Briq. – Chilean shrub mint = Clinopodium multiflorum Kuntze Satureja palmeri Briq, speculation that it is related to saturare, to satyr, or to zaatar is not well supported
Caraway, known as meridian fennel, and Persian cumin, is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to western Asia and North Africa. The plant is similar in appearance to other members of the family, with finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions. The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with white or pink flowers in umbels. Caraway fruits are crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges, the etymology of caraway is complex and poorly understood. English use of the term dates back to at least 1440. The fruits, usually used whole, have a pungent, anise-like flavor and aroma that comes from essential oils, mostly carvone, caraway is used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread. Caraway is used in desserts, casseroles, and it is found in European cuisine. For example, it is used in caraway seed cake, the roots may be cooked as a vegetable like parsnips or carrots. Additionally, the leaves are consumed as herbs, either raw, dried, or cooked. In Serbia, caraway is commonly sprinkled over home-made salty scones and it is used to add flavor to cheeses such as bondost, pultost and Tilsit cheese.
Scandinavian Akvavit, including Icelandic Brennivin, and several liqueurs are made with caraway, in Middle Eastern cuisine, caraway pudding, called Meghli, is a popular dessert during Ramadan. It is typically made and served in the Levant area in winter, caraway is added to flavor harissa, a Tunisian chili pepper paste. In Aleppian, Syrian cuisine it is used to make the sweet scones named keleacha, caraway fruit oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps and perfumes. Caraway is used as a breath freshener, and it has a tradition of use in folk medicine. Caraway is distributed throughout all of Europe except the Mediterranean region. All other European species of Carum generally have smaller fruits, some grow on rocks in the mountains, chiefly in the Balkans, Italian Alps and Apennines. However the only one that is cultivated is Carum Carvi, its fruits being used in ways in cooking and its essential oils in the preparation of certain medicines. The plant prefers warm, sunny locations and well-drained soil rich in organic matter, in warmer regions, it is planted in the winter as an annual
Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. It is a perennial which grows annual stems about a meter tall bearing narrow green leaves. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, to belong turmeric, cardamom. Ginger originated in the tropical rainforest in Southern Asia, although ginger no longer grows wild, it is thought to have originated on the Indian subcontinent because the ginger plants grown in India show the largest amount of genetic variation. Ginger was exported to Europe via India in the first century AD as a result of the spice trade and was used extensively by the Romans. The distantly related dicots in the genus Asarum are commonly called wild ginger because of their similar taste. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian name that produced the Tamil and Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver. The word probably was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre, ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers.
Because of its appeal and the adaptation of the plant to warm climates. It is a perennial plant with annual leafy stems, about a meter tall. Traditionally, the rhizome is gathered when the stalk withers, it is scalded, or washed and scraped, to kill it. The fragrant perisperm of the Zingiberaceae is used as sweetmeats by Bantu, ginger produces a hot, fragrant kitchen spice. Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or cooked as an ingredient in many dishes and they can be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tisane, to which honey is often added, sliced orange or lemon fruit may be added. Ginger can be made into candy, or ginger wine, which has been made commercially since 1740, mature ginger rhizomes are fibrous and nearly dry. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of six to one, although the flavors of fresh, powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.
Candied ginger, or crystallized ginger, is the root cooked in sugar until soft, fresh ginger may be peeled before eating. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag, in Indian cuisine, ginger is a key ingredient, especially in thicker gravies, as well as in many other dishes, both vegetarian and meat-based
Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives, a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives and it is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing. It is used in cosmetics and soaps, and as a fuel for oil lamps. It is associated with the Mediterranean diet for its health benefits. The olive is one of three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine, the two are wheat and grapes. Olive trees have grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC. Spain is the largest producer of oil, followed by Italy. However, per capita consumption is highest in Greece, followed by Spain, consumption in North America and northern Europe is far less, but rising steadily. The composition of oil varies with the cultivar, time of harvest. It consists mainly of acid, with smaller amounts of other fatty acids including linoleic acid. The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin, wild olives were collected by Neolithic peoples as early as the 8th millennium BC, the wild olive tree originated in Asia Minor or in ancient Greece.
It is not clear when and where trees were first domesticated, in Asia Minor, in the Levant. Archeological evidence shows that olives were turned into oil by 6000 BC and 4500 BC in present-day Palestine. Until 1500 BC, eastern areas of the Mediterranean were most heavily cultivated. Evidence suggests that olives were being grown in Crete as long ago as 2,500 BC, the cultivation of olive trees in Crete became particularly intense in the post-palatial period and played an important role in the islands economy, as it did across the Mediterranean. Recent genetic studies suggest that species used by modern cultivators descend from multiple wild populations, Olive trees and oil production in the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced to archives of the ancient city-state Ebla, which were located on the outskirts of the Syrian city Aleppo. Here some dozen documents dated 2400 BC describe lands of the king and these belonged to a library of clay tablets perfectly preserved by having been baked in the fire that destroyed the palace.
A source is the frequent mentions of oil in the Tanakh, dynastic Egyptians before 2000 BC imported olive oil from Crete and Canaan and oil was an important item of commerce and wealth
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon is used in sweet and savoury foods. The term cinnamon refers to its mid-brown colour, Cinnamon is the name for perhaps a dozen species of trees and the commercial spice products that some of them produce. All are members of the genus Cinnamomum in the family Lauraceae, only a few Cinnamomum species are grown commercially for spice. The English word cinnamon, attested in English since the 15th century, derives from the Greek κιννάμωμον kinnámōmon, via Latin, the Greek was borrowed from a Phoenician word, which was similar to the related Hebrew qinnamon. The name cassia, first recorded in English around AD1000, was borrowed via Latin and ultimately derives from Hebrew qtsīʿāh, Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BCE, the first Greek reference to kasia is found in a poem by Sappho in the seventh century BCE. According to Herodotus, both cinnamon and cassia grew in Arabia, together with incense and ladanum, the phoenix was reputed to build its nest from cinnamon and cassia.
Herodotus mentions other writers who believed the source of cassia was the home of Dionysos, egyptian recipes for kyphi, an aromatic used for burning, included cinnamon and cassia from Hellenistic times onward. The gifts of Hellenistic rulers to temples sometimes included cassia and cinnamon, as well as incense, Cinnamon was brought around the Arabian peninsula on rafts without rudders or sails or oars, taking advantage of the winter trade winds. Pliny mentions cassia as a agent for wine. According to Pliny, a Roman pound of cassia, cinnamon, or serichatum cost up to 300 denarii, diocletians Edict on Maximum Prices from 301 AD gives a price of 125 denarii for a pound of cassia, while an agricultural labourer earned 25 denarii per day. Malabathrum leaves were used in cooking and for distilling an oil used in a sauce for oysters by the Roman gourmet Gaius Gavius Apicius. Malabathrum is among the spices that, according to Apicius, any good kitchen should contain, through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world.
From reading Latin writers who quoted Herodotus, Europeans had learned that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the ports of Egypt. Marco Polo avoided precision on the topic, Pliny the Elder wrote in the first century that traders had made this up to charge more, but the story remained current in Byzantium as late as 1310. The first mention that the spice grew in Sri Lanka was in Zakariya al-Qazwinis Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad about 1270 and this was followed shortly thereafter by John of Montecorvino in a letter of about 1292. Indonesian rafts transported cinnamon directly from the Moluccas to East Africa, venetian traders from Italy held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe, distributing cinnamon from Alexandria
Salvia officinalis is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region and it has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times as an ornamental garden plant. The common name sage is used for a number of related and unrelated species. S. officinalis has numerous common names, some of the best-known are sage, common sage, garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, true sage, culinary sage, Dalmatian sage, and broadleaf sage. Cultivated forms include purple sage and red sage, the specific epithet officinalis refers to plants with a well-established medicinal or culinary value. S. officinalis was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 and it has been grown for centuries in the Old World for its food and healing properties, and was often described in old herbals for the many miraculous properties attributed to it. The specific epithet, refers to the plants medicinal use—the officina was the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs, S. officinalis has been classified under many other scientific names over the years, including six different names since 1940 alone.
It is the species for the genus Salvia. Cultivars are quite variable in size and flower color, the Old World type grows to approximately 2 ft tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in spring or summer. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 2.5 in long by 1 in wide, leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs. Modern cultivars include leaves with purple, cream, S. officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, increasing womens fertility, and more. Theophrastus wrote about two different sages, a wild undershrub he called sphakos, and a cultivated plant he called elelisphakos. Pliny the Elder said the plant was called salvia by the Romans, and used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages, walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments—he went back to the Greek root for the name and called it lelifagus.
The plant had a reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix, and was one of the ingredients of Four Thieves Vinegar, dioscorides and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic and tonic. In Britain, sage has for generations been listed as one of the herbs, along with parsley, rosemary
Cooking or cookery is the art and craft of preparing food for consumption with the use of heat. The ways or types of cooking depend on the skill, cooking is done both by people in their own dwellings and by professional cooks and chefs in restaurants and other food establishments. Cooking can occur through chemical reactions without the presence of heat, such as in ceviche, preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans. It may have started around 2 million years ago, though evidence for it reaches no more than 1 million years ago. The expansion of agriculture, commerce and transportation between civilizations in different regions offered cooks many new ingredients, New inventions and technologies, such as the invention of pottery for holding and boiling water, expanded cooking techniques. Some modern cooks apply advanced scientific techniques to food preparation to further enhance the flavor of the dish served, phylogenetic analysis suggests that human ancestors may have invented cooking as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago.
Re-analysis of burnt bone fragments and plant ashes from the Wonderwerk Cave, there is evidence that Homo erectus was cooking their food as early as 500,000 years ago. Evidence for the use of fire by Homo erectus beginning some 400,000 years ago has wide scholarly support. Archeological evidence, from 300,000 years ago, in the form of ancient hearths, earth ovens, burnt animal bones, and flint, are found across Europe, anthropologists think that widespread cooking fires began about 250,000 years ago, when hearths started appearing. More recently, the earliest hearths have been reported to be at least 790,000 years old, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, food was a classic marker of identity in Europe. In the nineteenth-century Age of Nationalism cuisine became a symbol of national identity. Communication between the Old World and the New World in the Colombian exchange influenced the history of cooking, the Industrial Revolution brought mass-production, mass-marketing and standardization of food.
Factories processed, preserved and packaged a wide variety of foods, in the 1920s, freezing methods and fast-food establishments emerged. Along with changes in food, starting early in the 20th century, governments have issued nutrition guidelines, the 1916 Food For Young Children became the first USDA guide to give specific dietary guidelines. Updated in the 1920s, these guides gave shopping suggestions for different-sized families along with a Depression Era revision which included four cost levels, in 1943, the USDA created the Basic Seven chart to make sure that people got the recommended nutrients. It included the first-ever Recommended Daily Allowances from the National Academy of Sciences, in 1956, the Essentials of an Adequate Diet brought recommendations which cut the number of groups that American school children would learn about down to four. In 1979, a guide called Food addressed the link between too much of certain foods and chronic diseases, but added fats, most ingredients in cooking are derived from living organisms.
Vegetables, fruits and nuts as well as herbs and spices come from plants, while meat, eggs and the yeast used in baking are kinds of fungi
Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. They are a grouping within the infraorder Cetacea, usually excluding dolphins. Whales and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, the two parvorders of whales, baleen whales and toothed whales, are thought to have split apart around 34 million years ago. The whales comprise eight extant families, Balaenidae, Eschrichtiidae, Physeteridae, Whales are creatures of the open ocean, they feed, give birth and raise their young at sea. So extreme is their adaptation to life underwater that they are unable to survive on land. Whales range in size from the 2.6 metres and 135 kilograms dwarf sperm whale to the 29.9 metres and 190 metric tons blue whale, the sperm whale is the largest toothed predator on earth. Several species exhibit sexual dimorphism, in that the females are larger than males, baleen whales have no teeth, instead they have plates of baleen, a fringe-like structure used to expel water while retaining the krill and plankton which they feed on.
They use their throat pleats to expand the mouth to take in huge gulps of water, balaenids have heads that can make up 40% of their body mass to take in water. Toothed whales, on the hand, have conical teeth designed for catching fish or squid. Some species, such as whales, are well adapted for diving to great depths to catch squid. Whales have evolved from land-living mammals, as such they must breathe air regularly, though they can remain submerged for long periods. They have blowholes located on top of their heads, through air is taken in. They are warm-blooded, and have a layer of fat, or blubber, under the skin, with streamlined fusiform bodies and two limbs that are modified into flippers, whales can travel at up to 20 knots, though they are not as flexible or agile as seals. Whales produce a variety of vocalizations, notably the extended songs of the humpback whale. Although whales are widespread, most species prefer the waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Species such as humpbacks and blue whales are capable of travelling thousands of miles without feeding, males typically mate with multiple females every year, but females only mate every two to three years.
Calves are typically born in the spring and summer months and females bear all the responsibility for raising them, mothers of some species fast and nurse their young for one to two years. Once relentlessly hunted for their products, whales are now protected by international law, the North Atlantic right whales nearly became extinct in the twentieth century, with a population low of 450, and the North Pacific gray whale population is ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN