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The parachute physics of hungry whales

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 27, 2009

How did whales get so big eating such tiny creatures? And why aren’t they bigger? Carl Zimmer explains.

According to the scientists, this pattern occurs when the whales lunge into a cloud of krill and drop open their jaws. Pleats under the lower jaw open up, engulfing huge amounts of water. The whale slows down because of the drag. It behaves, in other words, a lot like a parachute. […] It’s a lot of water, the scientists have found: in one lunge, a fin whale can momentarily double its weight.

The scaling stuff later on in the article is especially interesting. See also The Biology of B-Movie Monsters.

We Work Remotely

Carl Zimmer on the origin of whales,

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 17, 2006

Carl Zimmer on the origin of whales, baleen and non. “Baleen whales evolved baleen long after splitting off from other whales. Their baleen-free ancestors apparently thrived as leopard-seal-like hunters for millions of years.”

Forbes has quite a large feature on

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2005

Forbes has quite a large feature on the subject of communicating, with thoughts from Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Zimmer, Milton Glaser, Jane Goodall, etc. I haven’t read any of this yet; it looks sufficiently interesting to get it in magazine form for easier reading.

Carl Zimmer responds to the idea that

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 12, 2005

Carl Zimmer responds to the idea that Charles Darwin’s evolutionary ideas turned him (Darwin) away from religion (as stated in this Slate article).