Nicholas D. Pyenson's blog

Whale fossils on the mainland, and into a CT scanner

Fossils Get a CT Scan
Blog Category: 

After a few long days of hard work on the island, we were finally able to excavate and removenot just one, but two skeletons of an early "toothed" baleen whale from the rocks near the Carmanah Lighthouse. All told, it took our team 3 days, along with assistance from Parks Canada, a chartered boat, a chartered helicopter, car ferries, and one really nice diamond-bladed rock saw.

Dispatches from the Field: Treacherous stream crossings and a new fossil find

Arm Bone Fossil of an Ancient Toothed Whale
Blog Category: 

Editor's note: Read Nick's first blog post about "toothed" baleen whales to see what their team is excavating on Vancouver Island.  

Excavating a "toothed" baleen whale from Vancouver Island

An Ancient Whale Skeleton, Unexcavated
Blog Category: 

The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups: those with teeth (odontocetes), and those that have baleen (mysticetes) instead of teeth. These two groups share a common ancestor in the Eocene, which had teeth (They looked a lot like the ancient whale skeletons in the Sant Ocean Hall).

New Archaeocetes from Peru Are the Oldest Fossil Whales from South America

Eocene Whales and Penguins Off the Coast of Peru

The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the world, including challenging field areas in Egypt, Pakistan, and India. 

Fossil Whale Found, Excavated, Jacketed, and Returned to STRI!

Excavating an Extinct Toothed Whale
Racing the Tide
Blog Category: 

Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his team from STRI. The road we took in two field vehicles mostly followed the Panama Canal heading northwards; we had to stop at a tanker ship crossing, where the locks separated the roadway. Quite an engineering marvel.

At STRI, No Whales Yet, But There Are Fossil Sea Cows...

Researchers Prepare for a Long Day in the Field
Blog Category: 
OP - Content Topics: 

Jorge and I arrived in Panama City around 3 pm this afternoon, and took a taxi to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)'s headquarters in the Gorgas neighborhood of downtown Panama City. The temperature's about like it would be in D.C. on a hot day, but, much to our amazement, there are giant, beautiful avocados and mangos hanging from the trees, along with monkeys and toucans. (Apparently they pass for the Central American counterparts of rats and pigeons). Pretty neat though!

Expedition to Excavate a Fossil Whale

Digging a Trench
Blog Category: 

My graduate student Jorge and I are departing today for Panama, to excavate a fossil whale that was discovered by an undergraduate student working with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute researcher Aaron O'Dea.

Subscribe to RSS - Nicholas D. Pyenson's blog