Tomorrow night the Museum is hosting its first ever grown-up sleepover. The event sold out in less than a day, but you can still join in the fun! Just follow us on Instagram or Twitter @amnh for live updates, and see what a real night at the museum looks like: http://instagram.com/amnh
UPDATE: Thanks for watching #WhaleWash! Cleaning continues offline today, and footage from the live stream will be posted later this week on amnh.tv
We’re live streaming our #WhaleWash right now! With pop-up whale facts and extreme vacuuming, this is one rare whale sighting you don’t want to miss.
Each year, the Museum’s 94-foot long, 21,000-pound blue whale model gets spruced up during its annual cleaning, and this year, you’re invited to watch. Tune in Tuesday, July 8 at 11:30 am EST as members of the American Museum of Natural History’s Exhibition department use long-handled brushes and vacuums to wipe away the dust from the iconic model: http://bit.ly/1zloUM4
Happy World Oceans Day!
There’s no better place to celebrate and learn about the oceans diverse and complex web of life than in the fully immersive marine environment of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
If you can’t make it in person, explore the website and learn about the creation of the 94-foot-long blue whale suspended from the ceiling, the oddly named whale shark, and the epic encounter between the giant squid and sperm whale.
Learn to fold an origami whale…and have some fun while you’re at it.
Don’t miss the Museum’s Origami Holiday Tree, on view through this Sunday, January 12.
Don’t miss Whales: Giants of the Deep before it closes this Sunday, January 5!
A killer whale gets a cleaning in today’s peek into the archives. (February 1967)
© AMNH Library/332578
Odd as it may seem, a four-footed land mammal named Pakicetus,living some 50 million years ago in what we know as Pakistan today, bears the title of “first whale.”
Straddling the two worlds of land and sea, the wolf-sized animal was a meat eater that sometimes ate fish, according to chemical evidence. Pakicetus also exhibited characteristics of its anatomy that link it to modern cetaceans, a group made up of whales, porpoises, and dolphins.
See a resin cast of Pakicetus, based on fossils found in Pakistan, in Whales Giants of the Deep.
Artist’s impression of Pakicetus attocki
© Carl Buell, 2006
Although only the skull of Andrewsarchus mongoliensis has ever been found, researchers infer from the fossil’s size (nearly 3 feet long!) and evolutionary relationships that the animal was about 6 feet high at the shoulder and 12 feet long, a size that would make Andrewsarchus the largest known meat-eating land mammal that ever lived.
Recent evolutionary analysis suggests this massive mammal is closely related to both hippos and whales, both members of a larger order of mammals called artiodactyls. Now, you can see this rarely exhibited Andrewsarchus skull in the special exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep.
Read about the Central Asiatic Expedition, which led to the discovery of Andrewsarchus in 1923, here.
One of the most interesting “whales” on display in the American Museum of Natural History isn’t a whale at all—it’s actually the world’s largest fish.
The whale shark (Rhinodon typus), which belongs to a group of cartilaginous fishes, earns the name “whale” solely because of its size. Despite their other name—shark—these giants are so gentle that snorkelers and scuba divers seek them out to swim alongside them.
It’s Tuesday’s peek into the archives!
Museum staff hang a sperm whale skeleton in the Hall of Ocean Life, 1933.
For more photos from our archives, explore the Picturing the Museum collection.
© AMNH Library/#314142
Have a whale of a weekend!
False killer whales via NOAA - Encyclopedia of the Sanctuaries
So what’s the difference between a whale, a dolphin, and a porpoise?
They are all cetaceans; dolphins and porpoises are actually types of specialized whales. The term “whale” is often used to refer to the large animals in the group. These can be both baleen whales (the filter feeders) and toothed whales (which hunt single prey).
Dolphins usually have a beak and always have conical teeth that taper to a fine point. Porpoises have no beak and their teeth are flat and spade-shaped.