species: krill

A Whale of a (Milk) Tale

A Whale of a (Milk) Tale

Blue whales, along with other species of baleen whales, are remarkable for their ability to put on massive amounts of blubber during pregnancy. What may be even more remarkable, however, is their ability to quickly transfer that stored energy to their developing calf during lactation, all while consuming little, if any, food. But not all whales share this intense lactation strategy. The toothed whales (the evolutionary "cousins" of baleen whales) are the tortoise to the baleen whales' hare, taking the slow and steady approach to milk production that is reminiscent of humans and other primate species. Why don't the baleen whales pace themselves a bit more? Or, alternatively, why don't the toothed whales pick up some speed? The evolution of two such dramatically different strategies in these closely related marine mammals can only be understood in the context of the species' entire life course. After all, evolutionary success is not about winning a sprint, but successfully playing the long game. Read More...