Thewissen, J. G. M.

Hans Thewissen, a leading researcher in the field of whale palaeontology and anatomy, gives a sweeping first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales, as the animals evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that looked like tiny deer, to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers, and to serpentlike denizens of the coast.

Thewissen reports on his discoveries in the wilds of India and Pakistan in chronological order, weaving a narrative that exposes the day-to-day adventures of fossil collection and enriching it with local flavours of South Asian culture and society. The reader senses both the excitement of the digs and also the scientific dynamics, wherein each insight that is reached gives rise to new questions and wherein at times the logistics of just staying alive may trump all science.

In order to reach a deep understanding of how modern whales live their lives, Thewissen journeys to Japan and Alaska to study wild dolphins and whales. He finds answers to his questions about fossils by studying otters and porpoises, and by studying whale embryos under the microscope. In the final chapter, Thewissen argues for approaching whale evolution with the most powerful tools we have and for combining all the fields of science in pursuit of knowledge.

Also available in hardcover.  Price on application.

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University of California Press, March 2019.   245 pages, paperback, 67 colour & black and white photos and colour & black and white illustrations


Additional information

Weight 620 g