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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 Diana, a...
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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On a beach in Piña, Panama the tide is rolling out. Faint outlines of skeletal...

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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...

DIVE DEEPER

When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct...
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...
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...
The Haplophrentis carinatus had two oar-like appendages (called “helens”) used to stabilize the creature and help it move along the ocean bottom.
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...
When the cod fishery collapsed in Newfoundland in the early 1990s, the hopes of the local fish harvesters collapsed with it. Hundreds of Newfoundlanders moved away and businesses that depended on the...
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...
Monodontids, the group of whales that includes living belugas and narwhals, are emblematic symbols of the Arctic. However, the fossil record shows that these animals had a much larger range than the...
A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
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...
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...
Dugongs , along with manatees , make up a group of marine mammals called sirenians or seacows . In the modern world, only one species of seacow is found in any one place in the world. However, the...
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 .
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...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi ,...
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...
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...
CREDIT: Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Basque Whalers Background Having already learned to hunt large whales in the Bay of Biscay in the 13th through 15th centuries, Basques began arriving in the...
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