When you think about a whale, you probably picture an enormous sea creature without legs. But what if I told you the first whale had four legs and could walk on land?
I talked about whales and other marine mammals with my friend Kevin Turner. He teaches marine biology at Washington State University.
He told me marine mammals have horizontal tails because they flex their bodies up and down to move. Fish flex their bodies side to side. Scientists think it has to do with the way different animals evolved.
Have you ever seen a diving beetle? They’re one of my favorite animals. They live underwater and breathe air from a bubble attached to their butts.
I talked about all the ways animals breathe underwater with my friend Wes Dowd. He’s a marine biologist and animal physiologist. He studies how living things interact with the world around them.
Animals need oxygen. For air-breathers like us, oxygen is mixed into the air. For water-breathers, oxygen is mixed into the water. To get oxygen into our bodies, we all need organs and tissues made of very thin material with lots of surface area. That means lots of places that touch the air or water where oxygen can pass through. Like inside lungs or gills. Or the skin of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders that can live on land or underwater.