The Walking Whales

The Walking Whales

From Land to Water in Eight Million Years

Book - 2014
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Hans Thewissen, a leading researcher in the field of whale paleontology and anatomy, gives a sweeping first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales. As evidenced in the record, whales evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that resembled tiny deer to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers and to serpentlike denizens of the coast.

Thewissen reports on his discoveries in the wilds of India and Pakistan, weaving a narrative that reveals the day-to-day adventures of fossil collection, enriching it with local flavors from South Asian culture and society. The reader senses the excitement of the digs as well as the rigors faced by scientific researchers, for whom each new insight gives rise to even more questions, and for whom at times the logistics of just staying alive may trump all science.

In his search for an understanding of how modern whales live their lives, Thewissen also journeys to Japan and Alaska to study whales and wild dolphins. He finds answers to his questions about fossils by studying the anatomy of otters and porpoises and examining whale embryos under the microscope. In the book's final chapter, Thewissen argues for approaching whale evolution with the most powerful tools we have and for combining all the fields of science in pursuit of knowledge.
Publisher: Oakland, California : University of California Press, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780520277069
Branch Call Number: 569.5 The
Characteristics: ix, 245 pages : illustrations (some colour), maps ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Dillard, Jacqueline - Illustrator

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r
ryner
Jul 15, 2016

For many years it was an accepted idea that whales evolved into sea-going creatures from terrestrial mammals, but physical evidence was scarce since so few fossils of ancient cetaceans were known. Then in 1991, while paleontologist Hans Thewissen was on a dig in Pakistan for unrelated land-dwelling mammals, he made a serendipitous discovery that not only began to fill in some of the holes in the fossil record, but also reveal the birthplace of whales. Thewissen's subsequent digs have unearthed even greater treasures. You need not be a paleontologist, biologist or anatomist to fully appreciate and devour this fascinating look at the latest discoveries in cetacean evolution.

s
sfogs
Aug 31, 2015

Really, really interesting!

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