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CORPORATE - Penguin Random House

Spying on Whales
The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures
By (author): Nick Pyenson
9780735224568 Hardcover English General Trade NATURE / Animals / Mammals Jun 26, 2018
$36.00 CAD
Active 6.27 x 9.27 x 1.1 in 336 pages 24 LINE DRAWINGS; 1 MAP Viking
A dive 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 200 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 50 million years to evolve to such big sizes, and how do they eat enough to stay that big? How did their ancestors return from land to the sea—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.

AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF A HOT CATEGORY: Nick’s research has been recently featured in the New York Times, on NPR’s Morning Edition, The Atlantic, WIRED, BBC, Washington Post, and many other places—there’s a huge and timely fascination with the animals that have a lot to teach us about our changing earth. What Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus did for octopi, and what The Genius of Birds did for birds, Spying on Whales will do for whales.

UP AND COMING YOUNG SCIENTIST: Nick is an ambitious rising star at the Smithsonian: the only scientist to tag, hunt, and dig whales, he discovered a new sensory organ in whales, received a Presidential Early Career Award from the Obama White House, and is highly personable and great with an audience (he’s the face of much of the Smithsonian’s donor outreach and relationship-building).

FULL SUPPORT FROM THE SMITHSONIAN: The Smithsonian is fully behind Nick, his research, and his writing of this book. In addition to their own magazine and stores (where they’ll promote and sell the book), they have their own PR machine that Nick is keyed into and is excited to collaborate with us to get Nick’s name and research out into the world.

Nick Pyenson is the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. His work has taken him to every continent, and his scientific discoveries frequently appear in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Popular Mechanics, USA Today, on NPR, NBC, CBC, and the BBC. Along with the highest research awards from the Smithsonian, he has also received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the Obama White House. He lives with his family in Maryland.

Author Residence: Washington DC

Author Hometown: Montreal, Canada

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Publicity: Select author events

Print and online reviews and features

TV and radio interviews

Science and environmental media attention

Author Social Media: Twitter: @PyensonLab

Praise for Spying on Whales:

Spying on Whales represents the best of science writing. The subject is inherently fascinating, the author is an authentic scientist by virtue of his personal research on the subject, and the text reads like the epic it truly is.”—Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Origin of Creativity and The Meaning of Human Existence

“Reading Spying on Whales leaves a strong impression, based on the principles of ecology, evolution, and physiology, that a world including whales seems awesomely improbable. And, of course, wonderful. Nick Pyenson guides us through this world, and in the process achieves that rare state of grace for a writer of science—producing prose that is both scientific and beautiful. This is a moving, informative, evocative book.”—Robert Sapolsky, author of Behave


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