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Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and…
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Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most… (original 2018; udgave 2018)

af Nick Pyenson (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
19110106,127 (3.92)9
"A leading scientist dives into the secret lives of whales, from their evolutionary past to today's cutting edge of science. Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live two hundred years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection--yet there is still so much we don't know about them. Why did it take whales over fifty million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return to the sea from land--and what can their lives tell us about evolution as a whole? Importantly, in the sweepstakes of human-driven habitat and climate change, will whales survive? Nick Pyenson's research has given us the answers to some of our biggest questions about whales. He takes us deep inside the Smithsonian's unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future--all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth."--Dust jacket.… (mere)
Medlem:timwhale
Titel:Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures
Forfattere:Nick Pyenson (Forfatter)
Info:Viking (2018), Edition: 1st Edition, 336 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures af Nick Pyenson (2018)

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I've always had a fascination with whales, dolphins and other mammals that live in the sea. I think maybe it's because they are so like us, and yet so different at the same time. When I saw this book written by a Smithsonian paleontologist, I knew I had to read all about the past, present and future of whales. I'm glad I did -- this book is fascinating!

Nick Pyenson shares so many facts about whales...species that still swim in our oceans and ones that are long gone. He discusses the ancestors of the whales we know today, the life of whales now and what the future might be for some of the largest creatures on the planet. There is still so much about whales that we don't know because they spend most of their time in deep ocean where even modern humans have a hard time following. I found it fascinating that Pyenson shared the fact that some whales can live more than 200 years...so there are some still swimming that saw wooden ships with sails skimming across the ocean. It made me wonder with awe what experiences the oldest whale in the world might have had over its long life.

There is a lot of information and facts shared in this book, and at times Pyenson does get a bit academic. I read this book in small pieces, not in large chunks. The information is interesting and fascinating. But at times, the author let his ego show a bit. I don't fault highly educated people for this at all....they have a lot of knowledge and experiences that I don't. For me, small doses is best with information dense nonfiction like this book. Every night I would read a chapter or two while the HD television across the room showed an ocean documentary for ambiance. It just so happened that I was reading this book while Shark Week was on Discovery Channel....so it worked out perfectly. Sharks aren't whales of course...but the lovely ocean scenes made a perfect background for my enjoyment of this book.

Lovely book! A nice blend of Pyenson's personal experiences and facts, history and information about whales themselves. He presents the information in an interesting way. Pyenson actually gives tours at the Smithsonian. After reading his book, I imagine he is an awesome guide! Great read!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Penguin/Viking via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.** ( )
  JuliW | Nov 22, 2020 |
So many whale facts! I'd say this was maybe a 3.5 star read for me, but I haven't looked at the book yet to see the art, and I am very curious about that. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
Buy this book. Read it NOW.
  joysgood | Dec 19, 2019 |
Nick Pyenson studies whales--all cetaceans, in fact. Whales include the largest animals that have ever lived on Earth. We've interacted with them for much of our history.

But because they spend most of their lives underwater, and mostly don't have any regular need to be close to shore, we know surprisingly little about them. Which whales have the most oil or blubber is important for whale hunters, but not exactly a deep scientific insight, taken by itself. It doesn't tell us anything about how whales evolved, where they are and what they're doing in the great majority of their time that isn't spent anywhere near humans, or what their likely future in a changing world may be. Nick Pyenson has spent his professional life trying to answer those questions.

This is the story of that research and what he and other scientists have learned.

Pyenson reads his own book in a lively, enthusiastic, and clear voice that's easy to listen to. His passion for his subject comes through, and he's got really interesting material to work with.

His first section is about the cetacean past--how whales arose from four-legged, somewhat dog-like land animals, by stages, from fully land-dwelling animals, to animals spending a lot of time in the water but still mostly land-dwelling, to water-dwelling animals who gave birth on land, to animals that still had vestigial legs which clearly could not have supported them on land, to the current variety of fully aquatic whales and dolphins. A significant part of this research involves a fossil bed in Chile that has the largest and most complete fossil remains of extinct species of whales, deposited in at least four separate episodes, possibly due to toxic algal blooms (i.e., "red tide.") One of the small, interesting details from this section is that whales' closest living relatives appear to be hippos.

The second section is about currently living whale species, what we know and don't know, and how we are still learning the basics of internal whale anatomy and the differences to be found in the different varieties of whales. This includes discovery of previously unsuspected structures in the jaws and chins of different varieties of filter-feeding whales. Gathering some of this data included reluctantly joining a whaling expedition, not something he was pleased to do, but a rare opportunity to examine internal anatomical details on whales that haven't already begun to decay.

The final section considers the possible future of cetacean species in a changing global environment--which species are recovering from past depredations and which aren't, which seem to be adapting to the changes we're living through now, and which seem to be struggling, or losing the battle. There are some very impressive successes.

All in all, it's both a fascinating book, and a good listen.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Aug 25, 2019 |
Spying on Whales
Nick Pyenson
A very well written and engaging book by a paleontologist expert in baleen whales, covering his work on finds in the Atacama desert in Chile, and describing the life cycles of some whale species. I started this after our Alaska cruise, when we saw orcas and humpbacks in the wild. Although working as a paleontologist at the Smithsonian, Pyenson is also experienced in living whale species, having dissected whale jaws on Norwegian whaling stations, and describes the feeding behavior of rorqual whales, speculating on the reasons for there large size. He also reviews the history of south sea whaling, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. I was not aware of the scale of this operation, and of the massive changes in the whale population caused by hunting. He makes some points about the ecological consequences of whaling, but just seems more fascinated by his subject than interested in making an environmental point. ( )
  neurodrew | Jul 21, 2019 |
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"A leading scientist dives into the secret lives of whales, from their evolutionary past to today's cutting edge of science. Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live two hundred years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection--yet there is still so much we don't know about them. Why did it take whales over fifty million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return to the sea from land--and what can their lives tell us about evolution as a whole? Importantly, in the sweepstakes of human-driven habitat and climate change, will whales survive? Nick Pyenson's research has given us the answers to some of our biggest questions about whales. He takes us deep inside the Smithsonian's unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future--all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth."--Dust jacket.

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