History of whale hearing: Fin whale fetal skull

Maya Yamato, Smithsonian Institution
March 11, 2015
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Fin whale fetal skull
Maya Yamato, Smithsonian Institution

The yellow features in this 3-D reconstruction of a fin whale fetal skull represent the early developmental stages of ear bones, characteristics that are extremely rare, fragile and nearly impossible to study via traditional research methods. In 2015, a team of researchers from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History CT scanned 56 specimens of toothed and baleen whales and gained new insight about how whales successfully made the dramatic evolutionary shift from land to sea and adapted to hearing underwater. (Photo by Maya Yamato / Smithsonian Institution)