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Posts Tagged "Cetaceans"

Extinction Countdown

First Major Genetic Study of Elusive South African Dolphin Reveals a Species in Peril

Heaviside-Dolphin

In 1828, in a short paper in the journal Spicilegia Zoologica, British zoologist John Edward Gray reported six “new and undescribed” marine animals, among them a small dolphin found off southern Africa’s Atlantic coast. The specimen had been brought to him by Thomas Haviside, a captain for the East India Company, who encountered the dolphin [...]

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Guest Blog

Getting to Know Whale Vaginas in 7 Steps

Credit: Gregory "Greg" Smith via Flickr

It’s not easy to study a whale vagina. But it is necessary. Right now, penises get far more attention than vaginas in the science world. (It’s also apparent in the museum scene, too—sadly, today, there’s no vagina equivalent to rival the Icelandic Phallocological Museum). Surprisingly, the research imbalance is likely due to longstanding gender stereotypes [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Odobenocetops: ridiculous ‘walrus whales’

Odobenocetops-slide-2-600-px-tiny-Nov-2012-Tet-Zoo

I always hoped that, one day, I’d have time to talk at length about Odobenocetops, one of the strangest and most exciting of fossil cetaceans. Alas, I haven’t yet found that time, so here are a few slides on the beast from one of my fossil marine mammal lectures. Odobenocetops was originally described by Muizon [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

A peculiar whale skeleton is included fortuitously in the sci-fi movie Hunter Prey

It’s funny how things work out. We looked recently at a ‘mystery’ whale carcass from Baja California. As explained here, it turned out to be a Risso’s dolphin Grampus griseus. I recently watched a 2009 sci-fi movie called Hunter Prey. Should you wish to know more about it, the wikipedia article is pretty good. Anyway, at [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Grampus griseus joins the globicephalines

Thanks to everyone who had a go at identifying the Baja California whale carcass. Some suggestions were, err, a little far of the mark (fin whale, mesoplodont beaked whale); others were pretty reasonable (pilot whale). So, what do we have? Answer: a toothed cetacean (that is, an odontocete), total length about 3 m, with a [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

Identify the Baja California mystery whale carcass!

We all love identifying – or, trying to identify – weird carcasses. Back in December 2011, marine biologist and world chiton expert Douglas Eernisse of the University of California (Santa Cruz) sent me the series of photos you see here and below. They show a smallish cetacean (total length about 3 m), found beached and [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

All the whales of the world, ever (part II)

Welcome to part II of the Tet Zoo cetacean clearing house. With stem-cetaceans (‘archaeocetes’) and mysticetes out of the way (go here for part I), we come to odontocetes. Many key odontocete traits are found in the maxilla and ear region, most of which are related to soft tissue structures involved in noise-making and hearing. [...]

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Tetrapod Zoology

All the whales of the world, ever (part I)

It’s apparently a good idea in scientific blogging to produce ‘clearing house’ blog articles every now and again: that is, articles that include links to all of your other articles on a given subject. I suppose anything that gets people looking anew at old articles and reminding them what you have ‘in the archives’ is [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Oil Pollution is Making Gulf Dolphins Sick

For eighty-seven days in 2010, 210 million gallons of oil from wells below the Deepwater Horizon poured into the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers announced recently that as a result, Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay are suffering from a host of maladies, including lung disease and adrenal problems. They’re also losing their teeth. The research [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Friday Fun: Dolphin Stampede

dolphin group

This video (via the Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and Dana Point Whale Watch) showing a super-pod of perhaps 2000 dolphins off the coast of southern California, made the rounds last week. Dolphin society is typically described in the same way as primate society. Fission-fusion societies among dolphins are characterized by two levels of social [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Killer Whales in Captivity: Not a 13th Amendment Problem

An animal rights group has sued SeaWorld. Their claim is that SeaWorld should not be holding killer whales in captivity. So far, this is a fairly unsurprising story, and one that may have merit enough to debate. But here’s where the story seems to go off the rails: the argument is that the thirteenth amendment [...]

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