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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 fossil tooth whorl of the ancient shark Helicoprion , dating back 290...
A behind the scenes look at the NMNH ocean-related collections and their...
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Editor's note: Read Nick's first blog post about "toothed" baleen whales to see...

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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 , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from...
This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a...

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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...
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 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...
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 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...
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,...
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...
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...
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.
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.
My graduate student Jorge and I are departing today for Panama, to excavate a fossil whale that was discovered by an undergraduate student working with Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute...
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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