It’s World Ocean’s Day! In celebration, we’re posting our viral video in which humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins play together. Enjoy!
In the spring of 1923, a group of Museum researchers discovered the massive, 3-foot-long skull of Andrewsarchus mongoliensis on an expedition to Inner Mongolia.
Although only the skull of Andrewsarchus has ever been found, researchers infer from the fossil’s size 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. In fact, Andrewsarchus is closely related to hippos and to whales, both members of a larger order of mammals called artiodactyls.
See the rarely exhibited skull in the special exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep, which closes this Sunday, January 5.
This 19.5-inch long dolphin skull is engraved with a sailing ship.
Whalers who had plenty of idle time at sea on voyages that sometimes lasted for years, developed scrimshaw—the art of engraving and pigmenting images on the teeth, tusks and bones of marine animals including whales, walruses and dolphins.
Happy birthday to Herman Melville, who was born 194 years ago today at 6 Pearl Street in Manhattan.
In his epic novel Moby Dick, Melville devoted whole chapters to whale evolution, anatomy and behavior. One sperm whale fights another with its head and jaws, he writes. “Nevertheless, in his conflicts with man, he chiefly and contemptuously uses his tail.”
See this 1930-edition of Moby Dick in Whales: Giants of the Deep.
Catch up on current whale research in our latest podcast featuring scientists Howard Rosenbaum and Christopher Clark: http://bit.ly/1aVfmet
Recorded on May 19, 2013, at Milstein Science Series: Whales.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Epic Encounter: Giant Squid and Sperm Whale
In what is one of the most dramatic dioramas in the Museum, a giant squid is caught in the sperm whale’s mouth, its tentacles grasping at the whale’s head, which is actually an oversized snout.
The sperm whale and giant squid diorama in the Irma and Paul Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life is now celebrating the 10th anniversary of a masterful renovation.
Did you know? Whales’ flippers, or pectoral fins, share bone structure with the human arm and hand.
In fact, the bones of cetacean flippers are the same kinds of bones as in the human arm, with an upper arm bone, two forearm bones, and hand, wrist, and finger bones. In whales, fingers are elongated and may have additional bones.
Read more on whales’ amazing adaptations here.
In 2001, the Museum’s famous blue whale model did not look as it does today. First constructed in the mid-1960s, the model was based on photographs of a female blue whale that had been found dead in 1925. At the time, little was known about what blue whales looked like in the wild.
By the time the Hall of Ocean Life closed for renovation in 2002, Museum artists had many photographs and footage of live whales on which to base their work. They flattened the model’s once-overly bulging eyes, accurately redesigned the whale’s blowholes, and tapered the tail. Using about 25 gallons of cobalt and cerulean blue paint, the team also recolored and respotted the grayish blue whale.
When the Irma and Paul Milstein Hall of Ocean Life reopened in 2003, the newly renovated gallery was transformed. Come celebrate the 10th anniversary of this beloved hall on Sunday, May 19, at the family-friendly Milstein Science Series: Whales.
Arctic waters are home to many amazing animal species, including such whales as narwhals, belugas, and graceful bowheads. Today, researchers are using the travels and travails of these still-mysterious Arctic whales to illuminate the changing nature of Arctic sea ice as Earth warms.
On Thursday, May 30, join a bevy of explorers and researchers at the Museum for a special World Science Festival event: How Whales are Unlocking Arctic Secrets.
Image: Laura Morse/Courtesy of NOAA
A sperm whale’s head is actually an oversized nose (which in mature males can make up a third of the animal’s body!). Sperm whales use their uniquely shaped nose to generate sound. Here’s how.
© AMNH/5W Infographics
Unlike fish, which swim by moving their tails side to side, whales and dolphins move their flukes up and down. Sperm whale flukes are the largest, relative to body size, of any whale.
More than a century old, this Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw feast dish depicts a killer whale with a human head and a second human head within its dorsal fin. The human is Siwidi, a mythic hero who travels undersea in a canoe that transforms into a killer whale.
See it in Whales: Giants of the Deep.
© AMNH/D. Finnin
It’s here! Whales: Giants of the Deep opens today.
Twenty-five years ago, Museum curators, including John Flynn, Frick Curator of Fossil Mammals, found fossil whale bones 6,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains of southern Chile.
Flynn is an authority on the evolution of mammals, including many now-extinct land mammals in South America, and the Museum curator of Whales: Giants of the Deep. We recently spoke with Dr. Flynn about the exhibition, his fieldwork in South America, and his sightings of whales in the wild. Check out the Q&A here.