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Erin McCarthy

14 Photos of Whale Bones (and more!) from the AMNH's Mammalogy Department

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Erin McCarthy

After getting a sneak peek of the American Museum of Natural History's latest exhibition, Whales: Giants of the Deep, which opens on March 22 (more on that later this week), we went behind the scenes to check out the institution's whale collections in its Mammalogy Department. While it's not the largest whale collection, it is diverse, with 380 specimens of 57 species. We took photos so you can feel like you were there, too.

The collection's specimens are housed on shelves that are opened and closed via hand crank.

Here's how the collection manager knows what's in a given row.

Gray whale vertebrae, collected off the coast of Russia.

More vertebrae.

The bones of a flipper of the largest specimen of a North Atlantic Right Whale ever collected. It was female, and collected by museum explorer Roy Chapman Andrews on Long Island.

More bones from that whale.

Bones from a blue whale, collected in Japan.

Narwhal bones in boxes.

This specimen, collected in 1940, is the skull of an Atlantic Humpback Dolphin, a very endangered, shy species.

Here's a close up look at its tag.

The most prominent skull in this photo belongs to a killer whale.

Toothed whale skulls galore.

And to close it out, some random bones from the toothed whale aisle.

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Animals
Why Male Hyenas Have It Worse Than Females
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A life of hunting zebras and raising young on the savanna isn’t half bad for a female hyena. Sadly, the same can’t be said for their male counterparts. As MinuteEarth explains, things take a downturn for the males of the species once they hit adolescence. No female in their pack will mate with them, a behavior scientists believe evolved to avoid inbreeding, so they head off in search of a different group to join. After dealing with vicious hazing from their new clan, they file in at the bottom of the rank and wait for other males above them to die so that they can slowly gain status.

Even after rising through the hierarchy, the most a male hyena can aspire to is being second place to the lowest-ranking female. Thanks to their bulky build and aggressive behavior, female hyenas enjoy a dominant position that’s rare in the animal kingdom.

After watching the video below, head over here for more facts about hyenas.

[h/t MinuteEarth]

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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