“A palaeontological howdunnit...[Spying on Whales] captures the excitement of...seeking answers to deep questions in cetacean science.” (Nature)
Called “the best of science writing” (Edward O. Wilson) and named a best book by Popular Science, a dive into the secret lives of whales, from their four-legged past to their perilous present. Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-size creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live 200 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 50 million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return from land to the sea - 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.
“A palaeontological howdunnit embedded in a travelogue devoted to chasing living and extinct whales...[Spying on Whales] captures the excitement of suction-cup tagging of humpback whales, and of digs in Panama, seeking answers to deep questions in cetacean science.” (Nature)
“Spying on Whales represents the best of science writing. The subject is inherently fascinating, the author is an authentic scientist by virtue of his personal research on the subject, and the text reads like the epic it truly is.” (Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winner and New York Times best-selling author of The Origin of Creativity and The Meaning of Human Existence)
"Pyenson sheds light on the mystery of life below the seas without dimming its majesty.” (Library Journal, starred)
"Contagiously enthusiastic.... A fascinating and entertaining look at whales and the scientists who study them." (Publishers Weekly)