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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...
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One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic...
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The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution...
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Microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminifera have a fossil record...

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A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
This fossil tooth whorl of the ancient shark Helicoprion , dates back 290...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three...

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When the cod fishery collapsed in Newfoundland in the early 1990s, the hopes of the local fish harvesters collapsed with it...
A time-lapse video shows researchers from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian's Tropical Research Institute racing to excavate the fossil of an extinct toothed whale...
The foot-long extinct shark Falcatus falcatus lived during the early Carboniferous period around 325 million years ago. The species, known from fossils in the Bear Gulch formation of Montana , was...
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...
Paleobiologist Mark D. Uhen drills away rock to reveal the fossilized bones of Peruvian archaeocetes (ancient whales), in the Vertebrate Paleontology Department at the Museo de Historia Natural de...
Fossils from the Cambrian period are found throughout the world. The Chengjiang fossil site in china is famous for containing about 196 species of fossils, many from the Cambrian period. The Burgess...
These deep-sea sediment cores were drilled from beneath the seafloor, and hold information about millions of years of ocean and atmospheric chemistry. As dirt, dead organisms, and other particles...
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...
A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
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...
A fossil vertebra that a Smithsonian researcher's mother found while prospecting in the Gatun Formation. It's not just any vertebra, it belongs to a fossil sea cow! According to Jorge Valez-Juarbe, a...
This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a white shark that lived about 6.5 million years ago called Carcharodon hubbelli . The fossil jaw contains 222 teeth, some in...
The Wiwaxia corrugata may have molted its scales in order to grow past these hard boundaries.
Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists study several fossil whale skeletons at Cerro Ballena, next to the Pan-American Highway in Atacama Region, Chile, in 2011. The fossils were discovered when the...
On a beach in Piña, Panama the tide is rolling out. Faint outlines of skeletal remains rise above the sand. Smithsonian scientists Nicholas Pyenson and Aaron O'Dea along with a team of students...
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...
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...
The Ottoia prolifica has proven that cannibalism did exist in the Cambrian period since there have been portions of one Ottoia prolifica found in another specimen’s gut.
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...
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