Pygmy Dwarf Sperm Whale

Common Name: Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Family: Physeteridae

Genus: Kogia

Species: Two species:

     Pygmy Sperm Whale Kogia breviceps

 Dwarf Sperm Whale Kogia simus




Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales belong to the Mammalian Order Cetacea, in the suborder Odontoceti.  All toothed whales belong to the suborder Odontoceti, which is Latin for "toothed whales".  They both belong to the sperm whale family, Physeteridae.  The other members of this family are the sperm whale and the dwarf sperm whale.  The pygmy sperm whale's scientific name is Kogia breviceps.  Some researchers place pygmy and dwarf sperm whales in a separate family, Kogiidae.  The generic name, Kogia, is possibly Cogia Effendi, a Turkish naturalist and whale researcher.  The pygmy sperm whale's specific name, breviceps, is derived from the Latin brevi, meaning "short", and caput, meaning "head".  The dwarf sperm whale's specific name, simus, is Latin for "flat-nosed".

Pygmy sperm whales reach 8-11ft in length and about 700-890lbs in weight.  Dwarf sperm whales reach 6-8ft in length and 300-600lbs in weight.  Both species have a spermaceti organ, like the sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, but differ in a variety of ways from their much larger cousin.  The blowholes of pygmy and sperm whales are located on the forehead of the animals, not on the tip of the snout.  A curved ridge is present on both species, located on each side of the head behind the edge of the mouth.


Both species inhabit tropical and temperate waters worldwide.  Remains of deep sea crustaceans were found in the stomachs of stranded individuals, although the primary component of the pygmy and dwarf sperm whale diet is squid.


Small groups of 3-5 are common for both species.  The gestation period fro the pygmy sperm whale is about 11 months.  Pygmy sperm whale calves are about three feet in length at birth.  Very little is known about the social structure of either species.


Pygmy and dwarf sperm whales are rare.  Population estimates do not exist.  Neither species is considered endangered.  Attempts to individuals alive in captivity have failed.

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.