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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...

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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...
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...
The Wiwaxia corrugata may have molted its scales in order to grow past these hard boundaries.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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...
Reaching almost three feet (one meter) long, Anomalocaris canadensis was enormous for this time period.
The peaceful Archaeocyatha lived during the most recent part of the Cambrian period. They separated into many families and were the Earth’s first reef-building animals.
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 ,...
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...
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...
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...
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 behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their importance to research and discovery.
George Mason University professor Mark D. Uhen and Dr. Matthew Lewin of the University of California, San Francisco, survey rocks of the Paracas Formation, in the southern part of Peru's Pisco Basin...
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...
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