Whales, mate!

5 May

I can’t imagine not being awed by massive air-breathing creatures that move through the water. Whales are smart creatures that live in a dark, alternative Earth-world, where sound is the dominant sense.

This weekend I got a chance to see this wonderful exhibition from New Zealand— complete with two sperm whale skeletons and a life-size model of a blue whale’s heart– at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History. (I’ve mentioned the blue whale replica at AMNH before. The heart replica blows your mind in the same way– an adult person can fit inside). Check out the first part of this video.

Though the big exhibits are impressive. The best of the exhibit comes through in the various booths with interactive features: comparing the sound frequencies of large and small whales and an interactive program that allowed us to “design a dolphin” by modifying its body shape and fin placements and size. In one video booth, we watched a sperm whale echolocate its dinner. In case you ever wondered, a lot of sound is bouncing around in that huge head.

I knew that whales evolved from land mammals, but the connection between a large rat-like creature and Shamu has never seemed particularly intuitive to me. This video strings together the transformation.

The exhibit just closed in Pittsburgh. But it moves to Boston’s Museum of Science this summer.

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2 Responses to “Whales, mate!”

  1. Su-sieee! Mac May 7, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    Hello webbofscience. Even though I had an idea of what was coming, the sperm whale grabbing the squid still surprised me. I was told about the whales being first land mammals just last week or so when I was checking out elephant seals. I always thought it was the other way around. I watched the video of rat turning into whale. Still not convinced. Thanks for the post. Your fellow blogathon-er. 🙂

  2. webbofscience May 7, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    The evolutionary video is based on actual fossils- wild, yes, but there’s definitely scientific evidence for it.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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