Two groups of whales evolved massive heads for different reasons

1 month ago 15
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By Jake Buehler

Bowhead whale

A bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia

Tony Wu / naturepl.com

Bowhead and right whales are among the biggest animals alive today, but a new look at how they evolved suggests that these two closely related groups ballooned in size independently, and probably for different reasons.

Both are balaenids, a type of baleen whale (a classification that includes the gigantic blue whale), but they aren’t shaped like other baleens. They have stocky bodies and immense heads that can take up a third of their body length, and their mouths are …

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