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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 that lived off...
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The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups:...
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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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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...
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...
Jorge and I arrived in Panama City around 3 pm this afternoon, and took a taxi to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)'s headquarters in the Gorgas neighborhood of downtown Panama City...
Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his team from STRI . The road we took in two field vehicles mostly followed the Panama Canal heading northwards; we had to...
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.
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...
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 .
For the last 150 years, paleontologists have debated the origins of the great white shark . Many believe that they descended from the 50-foot megalodon, also known as the megatooth shark (...
During the late Cretaceous period, Kansas was covered by a vast sea. There, scientists have found fossils of Squalicorax sharks (also called crow sharks) that lived 70-80 million years ago. They were...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Reaching almost three feet (one meter) long, Anomalocaris canadensis was enormous for this time period.
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...
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...
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