An early hypothesis we developed about the Carmel Church whale bonebed was that it was a mass-stranding event, where a lot of whales beached themselves at the same time. We have since rejected that hypothesis for a number of reasons. Even so, there is a single dolphin specimen that warrants a closer look.
This specimen consists of only a few vertebrae and ribs. Unlike most other bones from Carmel Church, the bones are abraided, and have numerous long cracks.
I believe the cracks in these bones were caused by desiccation, when the bones dried out in the sun. I think this dolphin stranded on the beach and dried out, the the body washed back out to sea where it was eventually buried.
While we know Carmel Church was close to the shore (from the geography, and the abundance of fossil plant material and land animals), this is the only specimen we’ve identified that shows evidence of desiccation.
A few days ago VMNH joined the “Shop for Museums” fundraising program. Today we joined a second program, called GoodSearch. GoodSearch is a search engine (like Google). However, for every search you do through their site, GoodSearch will donate 1 cent to the charity of your choice. Simply go to their site and select “Virginia Museum of Natural History” from their charity list. Searches for photos and for videos don’t count; the details are included on their site. I had the privilege of doing the first 3 searches for VMNH this morning. I’ve added a link to GoodSearch on the blog homepage.
For any readers close to Radford, I’ll be giving a lecture at Radford University’s Museum of the Earth Sciences this Thursday at 7:00 pm. The talk, which is free to the public, is entitled “B.D.W.’s–Using Big Dead Whales to Understand the Past.” It’s specifically about some of the discoveries made at Carmel Church.