PerspectiveMARINE BIOLOGY

The biology of big

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Science  13 Dec 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6471, pp. 1316-1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba1128

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Summary

With so many recent scientific advances focused on the mini, micro, nano, and molecular scales, there is a tendency to overlook the titanic biology of giants that share the Earth. The sheer magnitude of a scientific undertaking to study an oceanic, 25-m-long, 95,000-kg wild blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus)—the largest vertebrate in the animal kingdom—has long left researchers with little more than brief glimpses of their presence when the leviathan surfaces to breathe. On page 1367 of this issue, Goldbogen et al. (1) describe how they took advantage of developments in microprocessor technology to design submersible wildlife tags. The authors used the new tools to measure the feeding performance and prey choices of the largest mammals in the seas. These data revealed the ecological and evolutionary factors that drive the biology of being, not just big, but the biggest ever—perhaps the biggest possible.

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