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Whale, a common name, a simple word, but so many meanings. An animal, a good, a belief, a surprise, a part of these aspects or the encompassing of them all. It is, for sure, a being of some kind, but one that is described, depicted and appropriated in several forms, in a multitude of ways. To the whale is always assigned a role, but its relevance to distinct groups of society and its presentation to diverse audiences, across history, can be very different from one type of source to another. Working from the question – what's in a whale? – we present a study on the long-term human-whale relationships (from the 13th century onwards) connecting history and literature, to highlight the deep entanglement of societies and cultures with the marine environment. We aim at understanding the significance of whales and how culture, knowledge and values determine human behavior and actions towards these mammals. For that, we run through a long timeframe analyzing the whale, mostly based on Portuguese written sources, in comparison with European data, to discuss it as a commodity, a monster, a show and an icon. What we find is that the whale – real or conceptualized – has continuously been an element of human fascination. It is not merely a whale, but a wonder whale. An animal that still attracts crowds of people when it strands on nearby shores or when its blow is spotted in the horizon. The wonder whale allows for a close connection of people with the strange, enormous, paradoxical, ambivalent, still much unknown, oceanic realm.
The horse is one of the species most represented in cave art during the Paleolithic in the southwest of Europe. These representations show an equine with phenotypical characteristics close to two presentday species which are considered as ancient horses: tarpans (Equus ferus caballus Linnaeus, 1758) and Pzrewalski (Equus caballus przewalskii Poliakov, 1881) horses. There are no paleontological evidence at sites dating from the Upper Paleolithic in this area of the last species, and furthermore various authors compare these representations with Pzrewalski horses. The comparative anatomical analysis of these representations is difficult due to the variety of styles and the different sizes of the figures. In this case, we carry out a study of the body proportions on six variables measured in 42 pictures of horses represented in 15 caves (eleven from Spain and four from France) from different cultures and styles. These measurements have been compared with data obtained from pictures of present-day horses: 22 pictures of hemiones or Asian asses (Equus hemionus Pallas, 1775), 20 tarpans of Konik breed (Equus ferus caballus Linnaeus, 1758) and 25 Pzrewalski's horses. The results of these analyses were three different equations to distinguish these three current equine species and their relationship with cave art. The equids represented in the caves studied show similar body proportions to Konik horses and similar lengths of mane, tail and ears to present-day Pzrewalski's horses. The results of this analysis significantly discriminate the three current equine species, which shows that the method is reliable and that the equids represented in the caves studied have body proportions similar to Konik horses and similar lengths of mane, tail and ears to the Pzrewalski horses.