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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


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 study the auditory systems of baleen whales (Cetacea of the suborder Mysticeti). Although there is much concern about the effects of human-made noise on this group of marine mammals, we know surprisingly little about their hearing. Working with the Smithsonian Marine Mammal Program, I am investigating the auditory anatomy of several baleen whale species to understand mechanisms of sound reception. My methods include CT scanning whale heads and ears, dissecting specimens in the lab and on the beach, and modeling sound propagation through the various tissues of whale heads. I am also interested in the evolution of auditory structures in cetaceans, exploring biochemical properties of soft tissues associated with the ears and working with the Paleobiology department to learn from the Smithsonian's extensive collection of fossil specimens.

Recent Publications

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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