Dolphins and Whales by Maurizio Wurtz, Nadia Repetto
Dolphins and Whales represents the synthesis of the most recent research on dolphins and whales (the cetaceans) and leads the reader to a deeper understanding of their behavior and environment. From the ancient myths and legends of coastal peoples, who saw these animals as gods and monsters, through the bloody history of whale hunting and near extinction, to our modern era with its concern for marine preservation, dolphins and whales have occupied a special place in world history. This book explores not only the history of human interaction with these fascinating creatures but their unique biological history as well.
The cetaceans conquered the marine environment over 60 million years ago, when they were still terrestrial mammals living along the shores of a shallow sea that washed the coasts of what was not yet Eurasia and Africa. The evolutionary adaptations that enabled the cetaceans to make this radical change of environment brought them closer in physiology to fish, but they never lost their essential mammalian nature. Today, the known cetaceans are represented by some 81 species and have colonized practically all of the oceans and even some of the great rivers of South America and Asia. The final section of the book includes a directory with beautiful scientific illustrations of each species and a convenient listing of distinguishing characteristics, distribution, and unusual facts.