Today's Catch

Illustration of a four-legged proto-whale with webbed feet.

Early Whale with Webbed Feet

This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also may have spent time on land. An ancestor of the right whale , Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and webbed feet, like modern seals. But it also had ankle...
Fossil tooth whorl of ancient shark.

Fossil tooth spiral

This fossil tooth whorl of the ancient shark Helicoprion , dates back 290 million years. For a long time, people didn't know what the shark looked like—but, thanks to a CT scan of a fossil, researchers finally put the pieces together in 2013. Read...
Flame shells live in enormous colonies, but hidden in nests.

Orange-Tentacled Flame Shell

A colony of 100 million flame shells ( Limaria hians ) was discovered in Scotland in 2012 , and is thought to be the biggest in the world. Flame shells are bivalve mollusks that are shaped a bit like scallops—but they have bright orange tentacles...

Orcas in the Antarctic

Three distinct types of killer whale, or orcas, can be found in the Antarctic, each with a different habitat and diet preference. One type of orca preys almost exclusively on the Antarctic minke whale, another on seals, and the last eats fish. None...
A brachiopod looks like a clam, but they aren't closely related.

A Modern Day Brachiopod

Brachiopods are an ancient group of organisms, at least 600 million years old. They might just look like clams, but they are not even closely related. Instead of being horizontally symmetrical along their hinge, like clams and other bivalves, they...

Oil’s Impact on Marine Invertebrates

In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among birds and large animals, but Dr. Chris Mah, an...

Johnson-Sea-Link Submersible

The first time biologist Mandy Joye dove to the deep sea in the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible (pictured here), she had never seen the bubbles of a methane seep. But after that fateful day in 1994, she was entranced. Instead of studying the mussels...
New Sea Urchin Species Discovered Near New Caledonia in the South Pacific

Dazzling New Sea Urchin Species

Simon Coppard, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and an Encyclopedia of Life Rubenstein Fellow specializing in echinoids often uncovers new species during his research. In 2006, he and a fellow...
The fins of the frogfish are perfect for creeping around in the algae and stalking unsuspecting prey.

Frogfish Histrio histrio

The Sargassum frogfish Histrio histrio (Antennariidae) is a small but voracious predator - it can ingest animals up to it’s own size! The fins of the frogfish are perfect for creeping around in the algae and stalking unsuspecting prey. Off the coast...
Photo taken of the inside of a sperm whale's mouth. The teeth on the lower jaw fit into sockets above- perfect for eating squid.

Inside a Sperm Whale's Mouth

Sperm whales have conical teeth on their long, narrow, lower jaw. The teeth fit neatly into sockets in the upper jaw, which has no teeth. This arrangement is a perfect adaptation for slurping up soft-bodied squids—giant or otherwise. The sperm whale...

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