Grandest Creatures on the Planet

MarkCarwardineGreyWhaleIt’s hard not to be impressed with whales, whom the suddenly ubiquitous Carl Sagan once called “the grandest creatures on the planet.”  They can grow larger than the largest dinosaurs, and their brains can weigh more than 17 pounds (by comparison, our brains weigh about 3 pounds).  Crazier still, whales have developed an amazing type of sensory perception known as echolocation that helps them find their way in this crazy world.  Echolocation works the exact same way as sonar, but whereas we rely on technology to detect bouncing sound waves, they can do it with their brains.  And thanks to new research, we now have a better idea of when this trait first evolved among whales.  Earlier this week, scientists announced that they have discovered the earliest-known evidence of echolocation in the whale lineage.  Analyzing an ancient skull that turned up in the South Carolina Lowcountry, they conclude that echolocation first evolved in whales around 34 million years ago, give or take.  To learn more, check out the links here , here, and here.