ScienceUS: Fossil 12-million-year-old whale skull discovered

US: Fossil 12-million-year-old whale skull discovered

The fossil, preserved in layers of sediment, survived for thousands of years. A 12-million-year-old whale skull was found on a beach in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, according to a local museum. It was discovered by Pennsylvania native Cody Goddard last October while searching for fossils and shark teeth, a popular activity in the region, the Calvert Maritime Museum said in a statement.

A man and his family found a block of hardened sediment on the beach where they discovered the fossil before contacting the museum. New York Post. “We felt like we had won the world championship in paleontology!”said Stephen Godfrey, head of the museum’s paleontology department. “We don’t yet know what kind of Miocene whale this is”he added. “We’ll only know when it happens” ready for examination, the specialist continued.

“He created his own sarcophagus”

It took two months to remove and move the skull, stuck in a block of sediment, according to the museum. All this weighs about 295 kg, has a length of about 1.5 meters and a width of 45 cm. New York Post. Its significant weight is not due to the skull as such, but to the thick layer of sediment that surrounds it. “In a sense, he created his own sarcophagus, his own little burial chamber, which preserved it for millions of years.”Stephen Godfrey commented to an American newspaper.

This skull corresponds to that of a baleen whale. In prehistoric times, this animal was smaller than modern cetaceans: an average of 1.5 meters in length and 45 cm in width. It is the most complete fossil whale skull to be found in the Calvert Cliffs area, according to the museum, and has been named “Cody” after its discoverer.

Stephen Godfrey said the fossil had been transferred to the museum’s fossil laboratory and that special tools would be used to extract it from the sediment, a process that would take several months. Then scientists will be able to more accurately determine the species to which it belongs.

ML (with AFP)

Source: TF1


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