The nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system or CNS) and the all the other nerves of the body (the peripheral nervous system or PNS).

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The musculoskeletal system consists of the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. In marine mammals, one of the first noticeable differences during a necropsy is the dark red color of the muscles compared with terrestrial animals.

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The male reproductive system consists of the testicles, vas deferens, epididymis, prostate, and penis. In pinnipeds, males have a bone inside their penis called a baculum. This bone is not present in cetaceans. As in females, significant life history information can be gained by careful examination of the male reproductive tract. For example, determination of whether an animal is an adult or sub-adult can be determined by looking for the presence of sperm in the epididymis and the relative size of the testicles.

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Like all mammals, the female reproductive tract consists of the ovaries, uterus, cervix, and vagina. Examination of the reproductive tract during necropsy can reveal a lot of life history information about an individual. For example, the presence and number of CORPUS ALBINCANS (white bodies) can tell you the approximate number of pregnancies that the animal has experienced.

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The urinary system consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The most striking difference between the urinary system of marine mammals and that of most terrestrial animals is that marine mammals have reniculated kidneys.

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The integument (skin or pelt) of marine mammals is a very special organ! In cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, whales) the skin is smooth and sleek and feels very similar to a hard boiled egg. In pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and fur seals), the skin is covered in a layer of hair which can vary greatly in its thickness depending on the species.

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Fish anyone? The digestive system of marine mammals consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, colon, and rectum. Accessory organs are also critical for digestive function including the liver and pancreas.

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