Episode:6Te Papa Collection:Natural Environment
Suggested curriculum levels:3 – 7
Description:Whale specialist Anton Van Helden uncovers the mystery of the rare and mysterious spade-toothed whale. A scientific detective story with a twist.
Questions for students
- What is so special about beaked whales and why are they particularly interesting to New Zealand? Why can't scientists study live beaked whales?
- Why did it take so long to discover the true identity of the spade-toothed whale? By whom and how was its true identity finally determined?
- Having discovered this information, why does Te Papa continue to hold on to the skeletons of these beaked whales? Why is this information so important?
- Select another kind of whale to research. Use the 'Comparisons' response template to compare this whale with beaked whales, or with the spade-toothed whale. Alternatively, use the link below to find information about the pygmy blue whale and compare it with another whale.
- Trace the work done to identify the spade-toothed whale. What does this tell you about the nature of science and the ways in which scientists work?