To the First Whale

25 August 2007


There is a lot wrong that is wrong about this (n.b. QED!). But I couldn’t resist. Click for the sound clip.

Brian a.k.a Laelaps has cursored his latest epic, tracing whale evolution from Sarcopterygian to Flipper, or thereabouts. Those looking for a cetacean overdose should also check out Carl Zimmer’s post about the evolution of baleen.

One of these days I’m going to write about monophyly in river dolphins, and now I’m thinking about afrotheria, desmostylians and sirenians…Damn it, when am I going to write all of this??

The Crosby/Nash song that inspired the title of this post is admittedly sappy, but has new relevance with the demise of the Baiji. Those with a strong stomach can watch the youtube video.

4 Responses to “To the First Whale”

  1. Julia Says:

    I saw your “sexy little otter” comment on Laelaps – that could SO be made into a t-shirt…

    Can’t get the Youtube video to play – is this a lucky escape? My parents were into Beach Boys/Pink Floyd/Genesis (Dad) and Queen (Mum) so I missed out as a child and have no idea which song you’re referring to (but I do like the song “Deck the Stills” by the Barenaked Ladies).

  2. Neil Says:

    Hmm…I’ve already had requests for a cosmic gulper t-shirt, and Pluvialis liked my “if you were a fly” bit, perhaps I’m missing my true calling.

    Probably is a lucky escape, it’s just a lot of bloody whale slaughter, which is no harder to watch than cow/lamb/pig slaughter, but somehow more deeply troubling I guess because of the extinction angle. Actually rewatching the video it looks like at least one of the scenes is a legit beached Orca necropsy, still not pretty.

    The Crosby Nash song is called “To the Last Whale: Critical Mass/ Wind On The Water” from the album “Wind on The Water” Like I said, it’s sappy but affecting. I snagged a Steven Stills guitar pick at the Santa Barbara Bowl when I was eleven. Still have it around somewhere.

  3. […] hard to imagine an archaeocete like Ambulocetus, as my friend Neil so aptly described, as a “sexy otter.” Once undulation of the spine became established as a method of moving through the water, […]

  4. […] uh, I mean, I was just following orders.  Also, I’ve already beaten the “sexy little otter” joke to death […]

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