We house some of our larger mammalian skulls on top of the large waterfowl cabinet.  As you can see, it isn’t exactly ideal at the moment!  The long black thing in the foreground is baleen from a whale; behind that are the skulls of 2 walruses (Odobenus rosmarus), and on the blue boxes are two whale skulls (one pilot whale, Globicephala on the left, and I’ve never been able to reach the one on the right to see what it is!).  If you look at the top of the stack of black and white boxes in the back, the topmost white box is literally just inches underneath our fluorescent lights.  It’s my dream to someday have appropriate storage for all of these individuals!


Classic life-history theory predicts that menopause should not occur because there should be no selection for survival after the cessation of reproduction. Yet, human females routinely live 30 years after they have stopped reproducing. Only two other species— orcas (Orcinus orcaand short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) — have comparable postreproductive lifespans. In theory, menopause can evolve via inclusive fitness benefits, but the mechanisms by which postreproductive females help their kin remain enigmatic. 
however, a study about orca behavior, published in Current Biology, suggests that older females provide valuable information for the survival of the group.
According to the study’s authors, female orca, who are mothers between 12 and 40 years can get to fulfill 90. But, What is the evolutionary point of living so long without being able to reproduce? Until now it was known that the longevity of mothers increases the chances of survival of their sons.
According to the authors, females led their groups especially in times of shortage of salmon. Information on how and where to find fish, it can be vital for survive.
The wisdom they bring older females “may help explain why female orca and women continue to live long after they have ceased to reproduce,” said Brent, who lead the study

  • Photo:  A postreproductively aged female, J16, leads her adult son and two adult daughters. credit: Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research.
  • Reference: Brent et al. 2015. Ecological Knowledge, Leadership, and the Evolution of Menopause in Killer Whales. Cell

Finally managed to get a whole piece done in a day, it’s been a while.

This piece was inspired by the recent strandings at Farewell Spit in NZ, since I couldn’t attend these two and wanted to at least do something.

This is how it looked part way:

External image

And this is the video footage I used to form my picture.

I used the twilight colours with a daytime composition because in keeping the whales and people as silhouettes, they remain anonymous and therefore represent all the whales saved and lost, and all the people involved in the rescue.

I used watercolours for the background and biro for the silhouettes because my fine liner pens bled a little into the paper when I tried them.