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hvalur-8-whaling-vessel

Majority of Icelandic people think whaling harms their country’s reputation

A survey of Icelandic people has confirmed that the majority believe whaling damages Iceland's reputation. ...
A magnificent sei whale © Christopher Swann

Japan Begins Commercial Whaling Season

Sei whale © Christopher Swann Japanese whalers have left port to begin this year's annual...
Humpback whales in Alaska

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

We are excited to announce backing for two ground-breaking research projects to assess the little...

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

University of Alaska Fairbanks Master's student, Dana Bloch, retrieves a CTD that is used to...

Early whales hearing similar to land animals

Whales and dolphins are renowned for their sensitive hearing but new research published in Current Biology suggests this was not always the case.

Using a CT scanner, scientists examined the fossils of two whales discovered during the last century in Togo, Africa. The whales were around 43-46 million years old, and while they lived in the sea, they still had legs which allowed them access to the land. Even though they would have been feeding on fish, they had not yet developed the ability to echolocate, used by modern-day toothed whales and dolphins.

Examination of their inner ears indicates these early whales could not yet pick up the extremes of high or low frequency sounds their descendants can. The separation into toothed and baleen whales occured around 35 million years ago and while it seems likely their specialised hearing evolved after this, the scientists have not ruled the possibility of discovering a common ancestor with highly developed hearing.

M. Mourlam and M. Orliac. Infrasonic and Ultrasonic Hearing Evolved after the Emergence of Modern Whales. Current Biology. Published online June 8, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.061.