Whale bone on the beach in Mozambique

From: Kim Marshall-Tilas (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Tue May 28 2002 - 12:46:51 EDT

Reply: Dear Brian,
I forwarded your question onto a great scientist, Dr. Tom Ford, who I
thought might know the answer to your question. His thought is that the bone
is a thoracic vertebral bone and the meter span of the lateral processes
suggests it could be from a blue whale.

> While out walking my dog on the beach a couple of weeks ago I came across a
> large bone in a pool which I collected and presume is from a whale. The bone
> looks like a vertebra and consists of a central circular column 26cm across
> and 21cm deep. It has three radial bones coming off it, the span of the two
> central bones is 1.1m across with the third angled backwards at about 30
> degrees from the horizontal. This is divided into two at the base where
> presumably the spinal cord would have run, the length of this bone is 53cm.
> The condition of the bone is fairly rough and there are some barnacles on it
> so I presume it has been floating in the sea for some time before it came to
> rest on the beach. There were no other bones to be seen. Since I am in
> Mozambique I presume that it is from a southern wright whale? but from the
> dimensions given would it be possible to work out the size of the creature?
> Friends who were with me at the time thought I was picking up an aeroplanes
> propeller!
> I guess you must be busy following the international meeting on whales at the
> moment, good luck in your work.
> Brian Mathew

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