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A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
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Editor's note: Read Nick's first blog post about "toothed" baleen whales to see...
For the last 150 years, paleontologists have debated the origins of the great...
Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National...

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How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from the Cambrian period, more than 500 million years ago. It was found buried in Utah —an area that used to be underwater, covered by the ocean. Fossil...
This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a...
Two fossilized teeth from a megalodon ( Carcharodon megalodon ) dating back...

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When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct...
Two fossilized teeth from a megalodon ( Carcharodon megalodon ) dating back more than 20 million years. Their teeth can reach a diagonal length of seven inches! The ancestry of great white sharks has...
When paleontologists, like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's own Nick Pyenson , curator of marine mammal fossils, dig up fossils in the field, they can't just toss them in their...
A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated...
Microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminifera have a fossil record that extends from today to more than 500 million years ago. Although each foram is just a single cell, they build complex...
Smithsonian curator of fossil marine mammals Nick Pyenson and a team of collaborators are heading into Chile's Atacama Desert , shown here. They'll study a rich bonebed of fossil marine vertebrates...
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...
Brian Huber studies fossil organisms known as “ forams ” to learn about climate change in this video snippet from the Smithsonian Marine Collections video . More about world climate change can be...
Nick Pyenson, the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, points to the skull and skeleton of a fossil "toothed" mysticete ( baleen whale ) on the...
Globotruncana falsostuarti -- a foram that lived about 75 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, from southeastern Tanzania. By measuring the chemistry in the shell, scientists can estimate...
A relative of insects, trilobites lived on the ocean floor during the Cambrian period. Some would curl up like pill bugs while others burrowed underneath sand and mud.
Reaching almost three feet (one meter) long, Anomalocaris canadensis was enormous for this time period.
This fossil tooth whorl of the ancient shark Helicoprion , dates back 290 million years. For a long time, people didn't know what the shark looked like—but, thanks to a CT scan of a fossil,...
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...
Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete from Vancouver Island. This is the second specimen...
Monodontids, the group of whales that includes the belugas and narwhals swimming our ocean today, are emblematic symbols of the Arctic. However, their fossil record, although scarce, suggests that...
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...
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...
Dr. Karen Bice studies the foraminifera in ocean sediment to better understand climate change. More about scientists studying world climate change can be found in our Climate Change featured story .
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