Whale update 4

Our Carmel Church whale skull has been coming along nicely. The photo above shows the two complete dentaries (lower jaws), with the rostrum (the front part of the skull) nearing completion. You can see from the numerous breaks why reconstruction takes so long to complete.Below is our progress diagram, using Aglaocetus patulus as a guide.

We have essentially completed the maxilla (the red bone) of the left side, and have made progress on the right maxilla and the premaxillae (in green). The back end of the maxillae are particularly difficult in this whale, as there were a large number of holes (called foramina, singular foramen) for nerve or blood vessels. Because of these holes the bone was badly crushed in this area.

One curious point is that I have not yet located the vomer. This is a prominent bone that fills in the gap between the two maxillae (in the top view of the skull shown here, it’s the white area between the premaxillae.) The vomer is a large bone that is usually well-preserved, so I’m a little surprised that I haven’t yet located it, although it may still be in the jacket.

Earlier progress reports on this skull are available from February 4, January 21, and November 29.

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This entry was posted in "Sinistra", Carmel Church mysticetes, Carmel Church Quarry, Chesapeake Group and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Whale update 4

  1. Doug says:

    The jaws suddenly mak it look much more complete. Have you got even a rough idea where those mystery teeth came from yet?

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    The land mammal teeth (at least the first five) are almost definitely from a camel, but I don’t know yet which taxon (I have managed to rule a few out, though). I’m not sure yet about the sixth tooth; I originally thought it was from a different animal, but it could possibly be a camel tooth as well (camel premolars are much smaller than the molars).

    This raises an interesting possibility, because a whale jaw was lying between these teeth. We put the jaw in a jacket, so if these teeth are all from the same animal there could possibly be more teeth in the jacket. However, I think it will be awhile before we open that one.

  3. Doug says:

    Interesting. I wonder how all those teeth found their way around a whale jaw or the other way around. The Carmel Church mystery deepens! Would have been neat if they were rhino, huh?

  4. Alton Dooley says:

    Well, at Carmel Church we’ve found 7 land mammals in the last 9 years, so I’m not giving up on rhinos yet. There are other cool Calvert Formation land mammals known from other localities that we haven’t yet found at Carmel Church, too, like bear-dogs and elephants.

    And I’m still pretty excited about the camel; as far as I can tell, they’re just as rare in the Calvert as rhinos, and I believe these are the first Miocene camel teeth ever found in Virginia.

    We’re in the planning stages for a larger excavation at Carmel Church this summer; no telling what we’ll find!

  5. Doug says:

    That’s the spirit! I guess in a marine deposit you gotta take what you can get. And maybe Carmel Church will cough up something better. Seems to be very productive, no telling what you’ll find. Just like Pelagiarctos. Known from just a madibular syphosis (did i spell that right?), but given the productivity of Sharktooth Hill, a skull may surface eventually.

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