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Scientists Are 'Spying On Whales' To Learn How They Eat, Talk And ... Walked?

"We think of whales as creatures of the sea, but scientists now believe that 40 million to 50 million years ago, whales had four legs and lived at least part of their lives on land."

"'We can tell that they're whales based on key features of their anatomy — specifically parts of their skull,' paleobiologist Nick Pyenson says. 'But they were certainly not like the whales that you would see today.'"

"As the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., Pyenson has examined whale fossils that are tens of millions of years old. He has also learned about modern whales by attaching sensors to them in the wild and by studying their carcasses at commercial whaling sites."

"'We live in the golden age of whale science because there's so many new tools that we have to investigate their hidden lives,' he says."

"Pyenson notes that the largest whales alive today are the biggest vertebrates that have ever existed: 'No dinosaur was heavier. No other mammal exceeded their length or width," he says. "They are absolutely the largest vertebrate animals to have ever evolved in the history of life on Earth.'"


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