When I started out studying biology, I thought I was going to be a Zoologist, and one of my favourite courses was Chordate Evolution. This was, in essence, a vertebrate survey course that covered everything (fossil or extant) from tunicates to modern mammals. It meant hours of looking at specimens and diagrams, memorizing Latin names, and trying to understand concepts like changes in skull structure between major vertebrate groups.
Given the opportunity, I still love to re-visit the material, and I recently had a chance to spend some time in the Royal BC Museum, looking at bones. On a behind-the-scenes tour, one the first things that jumped out at me (figuratively speaking) were the whale specimens.