Nicholas D Pyenson

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Fin whales Balaenoptera physalus exhibit one of the most extreme feeding methods among aquatic vertebrates. Fin whales, and other rorquals (Balaenopteridae), lunge with their mouth fully agape, thereby generating dynamic pressure to stretch their mouth around a large volume of prey-laden water, which is then filtered by racks of baleen. Despite their large(More)
Lunge feeding by rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) is associated with a high energetic cost that decreases diving capacity, thereby limiting access to dense prey patches at depth. Despite this cost, rorquals exhibit high rates of lipid deposition and extremely large maximum body size. To address this paradox, we integrated kinematic data from digital tags(More)
Living cetaceans exhibit interspecific size ranging across several orders of magnitude, and rank among the largest vertebrates ever. Details of how cetaceans evolved different body sizes, however, remain obscure, because they lack basic morphological proxies that have been traditionally used in other fossil vertebrates. Here, we reconstruct the body size of(More)
Jeremy A. Goldbogen*, John Calambokidis, Donald A. Croll, Megan F. McKenna, Erin Oleson, Jean Potvin, Nicholas D. Pyenson, Greg Schorr, Robert E. Shadwick and Bernie R. Tershy Cascadia Research Collective, 2181⁄2 W. 4th Ave, Olympia, Washington 98501, USA; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Center for Ocean Health, 100 Shaffer Road, University(More)
Marine mammal mass strandings have occurred for millions of years, but their origins defy singular explanations. Beyond human causes, mass strandings have been attributed to herding behaviour, large-scale oceanographic fronts and harmful algal blooms (HABs). Because algal toxins cause organ failure in marine mammals, HABs are the most common mass stranding(More)
Modern pinnipeds distributed along the coasts of continental South America consist almost entirely of otariids (sea lions and fur seals). In contrast, phocids (true seals) are present only on the southernmost extreme of Chile. This recent biogeographic pattern is consistent with the zooarchaeological record (∼8–2 ka), but it is incompatible with the(More)
Many top consumers in today's oceans are marine tetrapods, a collection of lineages independently derived from terrestrial ancestors. The fossil record illuminates their transitions from land to sea, yet these initial invasions account for a small proportion of their evolutionary history. We review the history of marine invasions that drove major changes in(More)
In contrast to dominant mode of ecological transition in the evolution of marine mammals, different lineages of toothed whales (Odontoceti) have repeatedly invaded freshwater ecosystems during the Cenozoic era. The so-called 'river dolphins' are now recognized as independent lineages that converged on similar morphological specializations (e.g.,(More)
Top ocean predators have evolved multiple solutions to the challenges of feeding in the water. At the largest scale, rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) engulf and filter prey-laden water by lunge feeding, a strategy that is unique among vertebrates. Lunge feeding is facilitated by several morphological specializations, including bilaterally separate jaws that(More)
Until recently, there have been relatively few studies of brain mass and morphology in fossil cetaceans (dolphins, whales, and porpoises) because of difficulty accessing the matrix that fills the endocranial cavity of fossil cetacean skulls. As a result, our knowledge about cetacean brain evolution has been quite limited. By applying the noninvasive(More)