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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Mammals

Tarsius bancanus
bar Maya Yamato
    Maya Yamato
    Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow

  • Phone: (202)633-1572
  • Fax: (202)633-0182
  • E-mail: yamatom[at]

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 108
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    1000 Constitution Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20004

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Curriculum vitae
Working on stranded whales
Gray whale arrives from Whidbey Island
Press coverage about whale ears


Ph.D. (Biological Oceanography): Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, 2012
B.A. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology): Princeton University, 2007

Research Interests

I am a functional morphologist, evolutionary biologist, and marine physiologist who studies the evolution of aquatic sensory systems in marine mammals. I employ an integrative, creative, and multi-disciplinary approach in my question-based research program. For example, in my current work on hearing mechanisms in baleen whales, I have combined classical dissections, non-invasive biomedical imaging techniques, biochemical analyses of auditory structures, paleontological and developmental investigations of cetacean ears, and engineering methods for modeling sound propagation through virtual whale heads. The ultimate goal of this work is to better understand how ocean noise pollution, such as sounds from shipping traffic, may be affecting these enigmatic mammals living in a rapidly changing ocean environment.

Recent Publications

Yamato, M., H. Koopman, M. Niemeyer, and D. R. Ketten. 2014. Characterization of lipids in adipose depots associated with minke and fin whale ears: comparison with "acoustic fats" of toothed whales. Marine Mammal Science, doi: 10.1111/mms.12120.

Yamato, M., D. R. Ketten, J. Arruda, S. Cramer, and K. Moore. 2012. The auditory anatomy of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata): a potential fatty sound reception pathway in a baleen whale. The Anatomical Record, 295: 991-998.

Mooney, T., M. Yamato, and B. Brandstetter. 2012. Hearing in cetaceans: from natural history to experimental biology. Advances in Marine Biology, 63: 197-246.

Tubelli, A., A. Zosuls, D. R. Ketten, M. Yamato, and D. Mountain. 2012. A prediction of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) middle-ear transfer function. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132(5): 3263-3272.

Yamato, M. 2011. Whale heads and tales: A student probes the mysteries of what (and how) baleen whales hear. Oceanus Magazine, 49(1): 4-5.

Yamato, M., D. R. Ketten, J. Arruda, and S. Cramer. 2008. Biomechanical and structural modeling of hearing in baleen whales. Bioacoustics, 17(5): 100-102.

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