News: AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting News
Great Whales, Past and Present
[Video] Nicholas D. Pyenson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Nicholas D. Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, brought marine mammals' terrestrial ancestors to life during the symposium "Evolution of Giants: The Great Whales" at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.
Recently Pyenson's work has taken him to excavation sites in the Cerro Ballena in Chile.
"This is a 3D facsimile, a replica, of a snapshot in time of doing research," Pyenson said in an interview with AAAS' Carla Schaffer, holding the replica in one hand. "This actual specimen was part of a whole quarry of whale fossils and other marine mammal fossils that were discovered along the Pan American highway in 2010 by a road construction company."
While Pyenson described whales of the past, Megan McKenna, currently a bio-acoustic biologist with the National Park Service in Fort Collins, Colorado, spoke about present-day issues affecting whale populations. Working with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, McKenna has measured ocean noise levels to study how chronic and acute ocean noise impacts whale communication.
[Audio] Megan McKenna discusses ocean noise and its effect on whales.
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