They can weigh over a hundred tons, live their entire lives underwater, and some even hunt using sound through a method known as echolocation. Yet, whales are also complex social creatures who share much in common with humans.
This hour we talk with paleontologist Nick Pyenson about why he has dedicated his life to studying whales, or as he puts it, “Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures.” Pyenson’s new book, Spying on Whales, takes readers on a scientific quest to understand the evolutionary journey of whales from dog-sized land mammals to the ocean giants of today.
We ask Pyenson when—and why—did these creatures become so large?
We also talk about New England’s legacy of whaling and how it's impacted the species. And with a warming climates and melting ice, what does the future hold for whales?
- Dr. Nick Pyenson - Paleontologist at the at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and author of Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures (@PyensonLab )
- Bob Rocha - Director of Science Education at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts
Read an excerpt from Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures by Nick Pyenson.
Adapted from SPYING ON WHALES: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures, by Nick Pyenson. Published on June 26, 2018 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 2018.
Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on August 23, 2018.