Always ask naturalists questions

Humpback whale from wiki

Some friends went on a cruise to Alaska and were excited to tell me about all the ocean wildlife they saw and all the interesting facts they learned. In particular, they were very eager to discuss whale evolution. My friend exclaimed, “We learned from the naturalist on board that whales descended from kangaroos!” My reaction,… [read more]

Meet the grunt sculpin

I recently met a grunt sculpin and had to share the experience. While peering into a tank at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, suddenly the strangest looking creature started moving towards the front. My first thought, what the… It kind of looks like a seahorse / fish hybrid with a few funky genes in the mix. Thankfully,… [read more]

Whales and dolphins in the womb

The Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals takes us to some interesting places and this article is no exception: Cetacean Prenatal Development. Okay I was being sarcastic in this instance, a bit of a dry topic if you ask me. But there were a few pretty interesting facts. For instance, whales, dolphins and porpoises evolved from a… [read more]

Sexual maturity in whales and dolphins

Ah puberty, those awkward years on the road to sexual maturity. It’s not clear if whales and dolphins must also suffer the dramatic ups and downs of the human teenager, but some do have to suffer big differences between the sexes when it comes to the actually timing of sexual maturity. In several posts we’ve… [read more]

Shark-toothed dolphin and other fossil curiosities

Ah yes Squalodon, a genus of shark-toothed dolphins that lived 20 million years ago and is now extinct. This is probably a good thing, a dolphin just wouldn’t be a dolphin if it had shark teeth. That just doesn’t seem right. Although shark teeth may have helped them avoid captivity down the road… According to the Encyclopedia… [read more]

Cetacean fossil record: whale and dolphin bones

When it comes to figuring out the ancient history of whales and dolphins, all we really have is their bones. Sometimes whole skeletons have been found, but more often it’s pieces or sections of bone here and there that provide clues to a larger puzzle. Most whale and dolphin fossils are found in sedimentary rock,… [read more]

Whales and dolphins have lived through some crazy times

In the last two million years, the earth has gone through many changes. Yet, many whales and dolphins have managed to survive it all. I’m talking ice ages, sea level rise, dramatic shifting of land masses and coastlines. Although, it does seem like it would be easier for fully aquatic animals to adjust to shifting… [read more]

Evolution mimicry: look like a shark to trick others

Mimicry is a cool evolutionary strategy that pygmy and dwarf sperm whales have used to get through life with fewer predator attacks. These two marine mammals have incorporated some of the standard characteristics of sharks to scare off other animals that may have considered them possible dinner options. According to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals,… [read more]