Too often Basilosaurus is reconstructed as a shrink-wrapped snake-monster, so I attempted to portray it more in line with modern cetaceans. I started with Kellogg’s 1936 B. cetoides and added 10 more vertebrae, since complete B. isis specimens suggest his reconstruction was probably too short. When confronted with long spinal columns, lots of reconstructions get bored and let them wander around, but instead I used the Woods Hole CSI website as a resource to align the vertebrae in a plausible way. The website also proved invaluable when giving Basilosaurus a proper coating of soft tissue, including determining a plausible placement for the dorsal fin. Basilosaurus lacked the caudal peduncle of modern cetaceans — an area with no transverse processes prior to the flukes — so I decided to give it a more paddle-like tail. Of course, this is undoubtedly far too conservative and Basilosaurus probably had some weirdness that couldn’t be predicted from the bones.
A sperm whale’s head is actually an oversized nose (which in mature males can make up a third of the animal’s body!). Sperm whales use their uniquely shaped nose to generate sound. Here’s how.
© AMNH/5W Infographics
Blue Whale anatomy
Thanks for the submission Emma!
Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) with polar bear (Ursus maritimus) for scale
by Carl Buell
Bowhead whale paiting by Carl Buell
Like hippos, their closest living relatives, whales are descended from an ancestor that had four legs and walked on land.
One such “walking whale” is Ambulocetus natans, which lived about 49 million years ago in what is now northern Pakistan, in long-lost coastal shallow seas and brackish rivers.
Pakicetus Inachus, the most basal whale species known so far.
This piece was displayed at the Games We Play show at Neito Fine Art in San Francisco, CA from March to April, 2011. Hopefully someone got all into prehistoric cetaceans from it! :B