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Giants of the sea: the secret history, life and future of the whale species




A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) jumps out of the Pacific Ocean's waters in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico on March 14, 2018.
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) jumps out of the Pacific Ocean's waters in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico on March 14, 2018.
FERNANDO CASTILLO/AFP/Getty Images

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Fifty million years ago, whales were about the size of a German shepherd, dwelling and walking on land with four legs.

Since then, whale species have evolved into the largest and longest living mammals to ever exist on Earth. But how did they manage to grow so large? Why did they move out to sea, and what do we know about the future of their survival amidst climate change?

Nick Pyenson, star paleontologist and curator of the Smithsonian’s fossil marine mammals, takes us on a deep dive into the scientific adventures and research in his new book, “Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s most Awesome Creatures.”

From how their brains tell them to rise up to the surface for a breath while sleeping, to having belly buttons and being able to recognize themselves in mirrors, we’ll talk about everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about these intelligent, enigmatic sea giants. Call us with your questions at 866-893-5722.

Guest:

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and author of “Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures” (Penguin Random House, 2018)