Whale Fossils and Skeletons Visit New York

Created: 2013-03-22 14:49 EST

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A 58-foot (17 meter) male sperm whale skeleton is just one of the many highlights of a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

It was found by a local tribe on New Zealand's shore before they gifted their discover to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. And it's one of the many items that Te Papa has loaned to the exhibit in New York.

"Whales: Giants of the Deep" will feature more than 20 skulls and skeletons from various whale species, as well as ancient and cultural artifacts surrounding the creatures.

[John Flynn, Co-Curator, Whales: Giants of the Deep]:
"What's amazing to me about this exhibition is that it celebrates the majesty and diversity of whales, all the different kinds of whales. But also, looks at the complex and fascinating interaction that people have had with whales throughout their history, both as a natural resource," said the exhibits co-curator John Flynn on Wednesday (March 20) at a press preview before its unveiling.

Flynn explains there there are also interactives that showcase the evolution and biodiversity of the mammals.

[John Flynn, Co-Curator, Whales: Giants of the Deep]:
"You can climb into a life-size model of a blue whale heart, which I have done, so even a fairly big guy can get in there,"

Rhonda Paku, a senior curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, gave the exhibit a special blessing on behalf of the indigenous Maori people.

[Rhonda Paku, Senior Curator Maori, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa]:
"Our message is simple. We need to look after our planet and the whales are a very significant, important part of our planet. They're significant to us, not only because of our biodiversity, but also because of the communities and the histories and the traditions that were associated to them,".

The exhibit in New York will open on March 23 and conclude on January 5, 2014.