Revealing an Arctic Legend
By William Fitzhugh and Martin Nweeia
260 pages, 8.5 x 11.25"
Available November 2017
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 behavior. Ponder the evolutionary history of the narwhal through paleontology 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. The following pages 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.
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.
A co-publication with the Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution