<p>Sperm whales, the largest of the echolocating whales, have powerful sonar ability, says a new book that looks at the history of whales, including their evolution.</p>

Sperm whales, the largest of the echolocating whales, have powerful sonar ability, says a new book that looks at the history of whales, including their evolution.

Photograph by Flip Nicklin, Minden Pictures/Nat Geo Image Collection

Can Today’s Whale Species Survive the Age of Humans?

We don’t even know how many whale species exist, so which will be winners and which losers is hard to guess.

Nick Pyenson, a National Geographic Explorer and author of Spying on Whales, thinks of himself as a whale detective. As a paleontologist he spends his time travelling the world examining whale bones in places as far afield as Chile’s Atacama Desert. The fossils help reveal the whale’s deep history, from extinct species that originally lived on land to today’s cetaceans. And by knowing their past we can help ensure that these magnificent creatures survive the many threats they face in today’s world.

When National Geographic caught up with Pyenson in Washington D.C., where he is Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian Institution, he explained how one ancient species of whale looked more like

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