Sperm Whales: Social Evolution in the Ocean

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University of Chicago Press, Aug 1, 2003 - Nature - 431 pages
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Famed in story as "the great leviathans," sperm whales are truly creatures of extremes. Giants among all whales, they also have the largest brains of any creature on Earth. Males can reach a length of sixty-two feet and can weigh upwards of fifty tons.

With this book, Hal Whitehead gives us a clearer picture of the ecology and social life of sperm whales than we have ever had before. Based on almost two decades of field research, Whitehead describes their biology, behavior, and habitat; how they organize their societies; and how their complex lifestyles may have evolved in this unique environment. Among the many fascinating topics he explores is the crucial role that culture plays in the life of the sperm whale, and he traces the consequences of this argument for both evolution and conservation. Finally, drawing on these findings, Whitehead builds a general model of how the ocean environment influences social behavior and cultural evolution among mammals as well as other animals.

The definitive portrait of a provocative creature, Sperm Whales will interest animal behaviorists, conservationists, ecologists, and evolutionary biologists as well as marine mammalogists.

  

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Contents

An Animal of Extremes
1
Sperm Whale Populations
111
Sperm Whale Behavior and Vocalizations
133
Sperm Whale Societies
206
Sperm Whale Cultures
286
Social and Cultural Evolution in the Ocean
316
How We Study the Sperm Whale
375
Index
417
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Hal Whitehead is the Killam Professor in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University in Canada. He is the author of Voyage to the Whales and coeditor of Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

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