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Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

By: William W Fitzhugh(Editor), Martin T Nweeia(Editor), Kirk Johnson(Preface By)

233 pages, 264 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations

International Polar Institute Press

Paperback | Feb 2018 | #239756 | ISBN-13: 9780996748018
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £32.99 $43/€37 approx

About this book

Few animals on the planet inspire the sense of wonder evoked by the narwhal. The 'Arctic unicorn' is everyone's version of "awesome" and "cool". Explorers, aristocrats, artists and scientists celebrate this elusive whale and its extraordinary tusk. From Flemish unicorn tapestries, Inuit legends and traditional knowledge, and the research of devoted scientists, comes a tale of discovery reported here from the top of the world, a place where climate change is rapidly transforming one of the harshest environments on earth. How did the narwhal tusk become the horn of the fabled unicorn? What treasures do the Inuit hold about this majestic but elusive denizen? What have scientists discovered about the function of its tusk?

Explore with whale biologists as they capture live narwhals to answer questions of narwhal biology, migration, population and behaviour. Ponder the evolutionary history of the narwhal through palaeontology and genetic science. Contemplate the fate of northern regions, animals, and peoples in a rapidly warming Arctic. Experience the insights and observations of Inuit hunters who have lived with the narwhal for thousands of years. This book present their views along with the latest research in narwhal biology, art, and climate science illustrated by more than a dozen photographers and graphic artists.


A World of Questions

- What is a Whale?
- The Universally Beloved Unicorn

- Narwhal Biology: An Overview
- Listening to Narwhals
- The Physics of Flukes
- The Extraordinary Narwhal Tooth
- Whale in the Net!
- Making Sense of the Tusk
- Narwhal DNA
- Why Sequence Whole Genomes?
- The Narwhal Genome Initiative: A Progress Report
- Deep Time: The Narwhal and Beluga Fossil Record
- Narwhals and Climate

- Qaujimajatuqangit: Inuit Knowledge and Modern Life
- Nunavut Government Symbol
- Inuit and Narwhal
- Inuit contributions to Narwhal Knowledge

- Climate and the Changing Arctic
- Narwhals and the Global Mercury Issue
- As Goes the Arctic...
- Narwhal: An Uncertain Future
- The Last Ice Area
- Arctic Change, Resource Extraction, and Inuit Communities in Nunavut
- Drowning the Noise
- Rethinking Human Development
- Now is the Time
- Out of the Arctic, Into the Smithsonian: Making the Narwhal Exhibition


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William W. Fitzhugh is a Smithsonian anthropologist who directs the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center and serves as a visiting professor at Dartmouth College. His archaeological research investigates the history of Arctic peoples and cultures and the impacts of climate change and European contacts throughout northern Eurasia and North America. Recent research includes studies of Basque-Inuit contact and Mongolian Bronze Age art.

Dr Martin Nweeia has devoted 18 years to studies of narwhal tusk function discovering its sensory ability. The Harvard-Case Western Reserve-Smithsonian affiliated scientist worked with Inuit elders and hunters, and over 78 collaborating scientists in 8 countries in an effort that brought together Inuit traditional knowledge and scientific applications that led to his discoveries.

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