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Whalers hunted right whales for their blubber, which could be turned into oil to burn in lamps or make soap, and their baleen. Baleen is the series of fringed plates hanging in their mouths that they...
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
Vertebrates evolved in the sea and eventually moved onto land. The ancestors of whales later returned to the sea, taking advantage of its rich food supplies. As early whales adapted to their new...
North Atlantic right whales and ocean-going vessels often cross paths. Researchers have worked to show the interactions between whales and ships in order to protect the whales from collision. More...
These are fossil remains of archaeocetes, ancient whales, from the Paracas Formation of Peru's Pisco Basin . Smithsonian paleobiologist Nicholas D. Pyenson and a team of scientists discovered the...
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
This photograph was snapped as Phoenix swam in the Gulf of Maine in July 2008. More about the right whale can be found in our Tale of a Whale featured story .
Whales have existed for million of years. Watch this animation, from the Sant Ocean Hall , to see how they evolved from land-dwellers to the animals we know today. Discover more about whale evolution...
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...
Narwhals ( Monodon monoceros ) are a type of toothed whale, best known for their long unicorn-like tusk. The tusk is normally found on male narwhals and is actually a tooth. Narwhals usually live in...
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...
A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a...
Sirenians , or seacows, are a group of marine mammals that include manatees and dugongs . Currently, only a single species of seacow is found anywhere in the world. However, the fossil record of...
Phoenix swimming with her calf in February 2007 in the Southeast calving grounds off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. Researchers track these highly endangered whales (there are only about 450 of...
This is North Atlantic right whale #3333 who was spotted with fishing gear trailing from his mouth during an aerial survey off the coast of Georgia on January 29, 2008. Entanglement is one of the...
Whales swim, but their ancestors walked. Whales are mammals (like us) whose ancestors lived on land. Life probably began in the ocean and then evolved to colonize the land. Yet the whale’s ancestors...
This close-up photo of a right whale's head shows dozens of hitchhikers—tiny crustaceans known as whale lice, or cyamid amphipods. They live on the rough patches of skin (known as callosities) on...
Dr. Maya Yamato and colleague John Ososky dissect the head of a deceased stranded fin whale in the Chesapeake Bay to examine soft tissue associated with the ears. In 2015, Yamato’s team of...
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