||Part I: Past. How to know a whale ; Mammals like no other ; The stories bones tell ; Time travel on the fossil whale highway ; The afterlife of a whale ; Rock picks and lasers ; Cracking the case of Cerro Ballena -- Part II: Present. The age of giants ; The ocean's utmost bones ; A discovery at Hvalfjèorºur ; Physics and flensing knives ; The limits of living things -- Part III: Future. Arctic time machines ; Shifting baselines ; All the ways to go extinct ; Evolution in the Anthropocene ; Whalebone Junction. "A leading scientist dives into the secret lives of whales, from their evolutionary past to today's cutting edge of science. Whales are among the largest, most intelligent, deepest diving species to have ever lived on our planet. They evolved from land-roaming, dog-sized creatures into animals that move like fish, breathe like us, can grow to 300,000 pounds, live two hundred years, and travel entire ocean basins. Whales fill us with terror, awe, and affection--yet there is still so much we don't know about them. Why did it take whales over fifty million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return to the sea from land--and what can their lives tell us about evolution as a whole? Importantly, in the sweepstakes of human-driven habitat and climate change, will whales survive? Nick Pyenson's research has given us the answers to some of our biggest questions about whales. He takes us deep inside the Smithsonian's unparalleled fossil collections, to frigid Antarctic waters, and to the arid desert in Chile, where scientists race against time to document the largest fossil whale site ever found. Full of rich storytelling and scientific discovery, Spying on Whales spans the ancient past to an uncertain future--all to better understand the most enigmatic creatures on Earth."--Jacket.