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US speed restrictions reduce risk of death to endangered whales

US speed restrictions reduce risk of death to endangered whales

NOAA reports that three large commercial vessels who were assessed civil penalties this fall for...
Humpback Whale's change their Song in Response to an Noise Source 200 km Away

Humpback Whale's change their Song in Response to an Noise Source 200 km Away

PLoSOne reports that Sounds made by technology used to monitor fish stocks may affect how...
Play Whale Trail To Save The Whale!

Play Whale Trail To Save The Whale!

It’s addictive and its fun. What more could you want from a game that involves...
Japan Times Speaks Out Against  Whaling

Japan Times Speaks Out Against Whaling

The Japan Times today has questioned the continued practice of whaling.Looking back over the last...

Pygmy sperm whale fossils shed light on whale evolution

Fossils found in Panama from a newly-discovered extinct species of pygmy sperm whale have cast new light on how modern day whales evolved.

Scientists from the National History Museum in Los Angeles, writing in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, analysed the skulls of two whales found in rocks in a sea cliff. The rock layer is thought to be about 7 million years old. They discovered that the skulls of these whales had larger a spermaceti organ than their modern day relatives, though it is not yet known why it shrunk over time. The organ is found in the head and plays a key role in the generation of sound and in the whale’s use of echolocation.

“The new discovery gives us a better understanding of the ancient distribution of these poorly known relatives of the sperm whale,” said lead scientist, Dr. Jorge Velez-Juarbe. The new whale species has been named Nanokogia isthmia after the Isthmus of Panama.

The spermaceti organ contains a waxy liquid that was highly sought after by whalers and led to the death of hundreds of thousands of sperm whales (a distant relative of pygmy sperm whales) during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The oil was used in everything from candles and cosmetics to engines in luxury cars.