Taxonomy term

whale

Three new species of extinct baleen whales found

The evolution of baleen whales from toothed whales was gradual, with intermediate fossil species found that possess both teeth and baleen. Now, the discovery of three new whale species on New Zealand’s South Island is filling in the evolutionary story of baleen whales.
 
21 Jan 2016

One whale's incredible journey details East Africa's uplift

About 17 million years ago, a 7-meter-long beaked whale took a wrong turn off Africa’s east coast and swam hundreds of kilometers up the Anza River before stranding. In 1964, the fossilized remains of the wayward whale were discovered at high elevation in West Turkana, Kenya, and then transported to the U.S., where they were subsequently lost in storage for more than 30 years before being rediscovered at Harvard in 2011. The whale’s incredible journey is now providing crucial clues about the timing of uplift in East Africa.
 
07 Jul 2015

For toothed whales, ecolocation is an ancient art

A new fossil find shows that toothed whales — including dolphins, orcas and sperm whales — have been using echolocation to navigate in low-visibility waters for millions of years. The discovery of a 28-million-year-old skull belonging to a previously unknown genus of toothed whale suggests that echolocation evolved extremely early in the whale family tree.

22 Jul 2014

Belugas, climate, mercury and cancer

Overall, the beluga whale population in the Arctic is robust and healthy, reported Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and the University of British Columbia who has long studied belugas, at the AAAS meeting.

03 Jul 2014

Parasites spread across the Arctic under the 'new normal'

The last several decades have seen Arctic sea-ice minimums drop by more than half in sea-ice area and more than three-quarters in volume. With current models expecting further reductions, scientists are calling it the “new normal” and are trying to grasp its implications — one of which is the occurrence of pathogens never before seen in the Arctic.

02 Jul 2014

CryoScoop: Sea ice synopsis and a whale tale

The extent of Arctic sea ice shrinks each year during the northern hemisphere’s spring and summer, trading a white frozen surface for dark open ocean. Reaching its lowest annual extent by September or October, the ice grows back again through the cold and dark winter months.

30 Sep 2011

Blogging on EARTH: Ancient whale with a big bite named for Moby Dick author

In a Peruvian desert, scientists discovered the fossils of an extinct whale with a big bite. The whale's teeth and jaws were so powerful that it feasted on other whales.

30 Jun 2010

Of sounds and cetaceans: Quieting a noisy underwater world

Marine mammals live in a world of sound. In the open ocean, whales and dolphins depend on sound waves, using echolocation to navigate, find food, attract mates and communicate. But their clicks and calls are not the only noises underwater: Oil and gas exploration, seafloor mapping, and ship and submarine navigation have increased dramatically over the past few decades, making the world’s oceans noisier than ever.

18 Mar 2010

How amphibious whales returned to the sea

Millions of years ago, the first animals emerged from their watery habitat to live on dry land. After becoming fully adapted to a terrestrial environment, however, some animals, such as whales, ultimately returned to the ocean. But the evolutionary steps involved in that watery return have long been a mystery. Now, some exceptional fossils — and one really old baby — are shedding some light on how whales went back to the sea.

19 Feb 2009

Weird whale tusks act as matchmakers

In the depths of the ocean, the bizarre beaked whale looks more like an eerie mutant than a gentle giant. With its bird-like beak and sharp tusks that jut out from the top of its head, anyone would wonder: What’s with all the weaponry? Now scientists think they’ve found the purpose of these weird tusks — and it is not nearly as maleficent as you may think.

30 Jan 2009

Pages