by Paul Nicklen

Image transferred from uncovered opposite plate.
From p. 289 of Nature Displayed in the Heavens and On the Earth by Simeon Shaw (1823). Original from Oxford University. Digitized July 11, 2008.


Boaters urged to steer clear of endangered right whales 
- Boaters off Cape Cod are being urged to keep an eye out for North Atlantic right whales in waters close to shore after about 30 of the endangered cetaceans were spotted feeding off the coast of Provincetown.

They’re back early!

New England Aquarium whale watches are starting up next weekend! Here’s a photo taken by one of our passengers last summer, is your camera ready for the action?

Notes on Whale Evolution
with Dr. Mark Uhen, Asst Prof. of  Geology, George Mason  Univ.
“We know from both studies of DNA and the anatomy of living animals and fossils that whales are part of a mammalian group known as the Artiodactyla.  Modern artiodactyls include animals like cows, pigs, sheep, giraffes,  camels, and hippos. Artiodactyls have many characteristics that  distinguish them from other mammals, but the most distinctive of them  are in the foot and ankle.
First, artiodactyls reduce the number of toes  such that the foot is symmetrical between two digits (a condition  called paraxonic). If you think about a cow foot, the hoof seems “split”  in two. These animals are often called cloven-hoofed for this reason.  The foot actually isn’t split into two at all. Rather, it is actually  two toes fused together. Second, artiodactyls have a bone in the ankle  called the astragalus (which is found in other mammals as well), but in  artiodactyls, it takes on a characteristic form with a pulley shape at  each end.
Early whales share these characteristics with other  artiodactyls. The group of fossil artiodactyls that we think are most  closely related to whales is called the Raoellidae, and they lived in  Indo-Pakistan, China, and Mongolia during the early and middle Eocene.  These animals were probably omnivorous, and some people think they  foraged by walking on the bottom of bodies of water…”
(read more: PBS | Nature)      (pictured: Sperm Whale)
Video: Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World