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The blanket octopus can rip a poisonous tentacle from a Portuguese man-o-war and wield it like a sword to ward off enemies as it soars through the ocean trailing its webbed cloak behind it...
Come one, come all! See the amazing, the astonishing, half-animal, half-plant!...
Several species of amphipod like this one, Gammarus wilkitzkii , live...
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Deep sea animals have to live in a very cold, dark, and high-pressure...

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This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also may have spent time on land. An ancestor of the right whale , Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and webbed feet, like modern seals. But...
Vertebrates evolved in the sea and eventually moved onto land. The ancestors...
These "elevator" rudists, an ancient bivalve, used one long heavy valve to...

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Whales swim, but their ancestors walked. Whales are mammals (like us) whose ancestors lived on land. Life probably began in...
This 1837 sketch is Charles Darwin’s first diagram of an evolutionary tree. It appears in his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837).
Editor's note: Read Nick's first blog post about "toothed" baleen whales to see what their team is excavating on Vancouver Island. We departed from Port Renfrew on Tuesday morning on the Michelle...
The basic body plans of all modern animals were set during the Cambrian Period, 542 - 488 million years ago. Your friends, family, and pet turtle may not look much like the creatures here. But we and...
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...
Bioluminescence is one of the more captivating adaptations that have evolved in marine animals. It's the ability of organisms to create and emit light. Dive underwater and you may witness lightshows...
Great White Sharks are stealthy hunters and the secret is in their skin. Shark skin is covered by tiny flat V-shaped scales, called dermal denticles, that are more like teeth than fish scales. These...
Scientists at the Smithsonian and partnering organizations have discovered a remarkably primitive eel in a fringing reef off the coast of the Republic of Palau . This fish exhibits many primitive...
Several species of amphipod like this one, Gammarus wilkitzkii , live permanently within Arctic sea ice . These animals are endemic, meaning they only live here. They acclimate to a wide range of...
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 Galápagos Islands site in Ecuador was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Located in the equatorial Pacific Ocean nearly 1000 km from South America, the Galapagos Islands and the...
For a long time, scientists thought that some small tentacled fossils were early ancestors of jellyfish. But a new study has found that these ancient animals are actually related to an entirely...
The blanket octopus can rip a poisonous tentacle from a Portuguese man-o-war and wield it like a sword to ward off enemies as it soars through the ocean trailing its webbed cloak behind it...
Come one, come all! See the amazing, the astonishing, half-animal, half-plant! Journey to Tampa Bay, Florida, where scientist Skip Pierce and one of his students first made a remarkable discovery...
Hidden beneath Arctic ice is a world few have ever seen. Take the icy plunge with a team of ice-loving scientists.
When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct creatures swam the ocean. Found all over the world, these fossils can be read...
Dr. Stephen Cairns is a research zoologist and chair of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. His research focuses on the diversity,...
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...
Today, filter feeders like clams, sponges, krill, baleen whales, fishes, and many others fill the ocean, spending their days filtering and eating tiny particles from the water. But when did the first...
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