Michael Williamson (CLAPHAM.PHIL@SIMNH.SI.EDU)
12 Oct 96 16:14 EST

Original message: "RE: COPY OF: WHALE FLIPPER BONES?"
From: <<>>

Thanks for your reply,

>  What you found is definitely a cetacean flipper, the question is
>what species.  Assuming that you correctly counted five sets of finger
>bones, this rules out many of the baleen whales.

I meant to say that the "fingers", and actually only one of them, had  five
bones, not that there were five fingers (five-boned fingers, not five boned
fingers). In fact there were only three fingers, and only one had five

>  If you somehow confused the number of fingers and it was actually
>four not five, then it is very likely to be a baleen whale.  A gray
>whale is the most likely candidate because grays are common in
>the region during migration.  It is unlikely to be a humpback because
>the humpback (though common there) has huge flippers, and 200 cm (six
>feet) would be a very small whale.  Furthermore, humpbacks have two
>very long sets of finger bones that stand out from the others.

I supposed  a gray whale, since I know they are common, but your comment
about two very long bones in a humpback are suggestive, since this flipper
had one "finger that is nearly twice the length of the other two. However,
I assume that pieces are missing.

>  So the bottom line is: don't know, but regrettably it isn't an alien
>(no, not even in California).  If you send photos we might get a better
>idea; will be happy to look at them, and will of course return them
>to you.  (Address: Phil Clapham, Smithsonian Institution, NHB 390
>MRC 108, Washington DC 20560).

I'll drop some pictures in the mail.


Response #1:  CLAPHAM,PHIL
OK, I see.  In that case it's frankly a bit more likely to be a
humpback since it sounds relatively fresh and gray whales have been
out opf the area for the several months since spring.

I'll look out for the photos.


Phil Clapham