More sperm whale

I’m back from vacation, and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the pace on new entries.

The Rappahannock sperm whale is shown above. We’ve made a fair amount of progress exposing the recovered parts of the skull, which appear to be primarily the maxillae (the bones of the upper jaw that hold the teeth.) Preparation will be a lot slower now, as we try to remove the two dentaries (the lower jaws) from the maxillae; the dentaries are thin and fragile, and pressed tight against the other bones. The unidentified bone on the far left is apparently part of the skull, but I’m not yet sure which bone it is. Hopefully once the dentaries are removed I’ll be able to see how this bone relates to the maxilla and be able to identify it. Also notice the four prepared teeth in the lower left corner, and the fused jugal and lacrimal sitting beside them.

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This entry was posted in Chesapeake Group, Rappahannock River sperm whale and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to More sperm whale

  1. Doug says:

    such a jumble of bones. Oh, I got a couple up close pictures of that sperm whale skull: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jobaria/sets/72157603965799835/

  2. Alton Dooley says:

    Nice photos, Doug. I think I said before, the Santa Barbara whale looks like Zygophyseter to me, based on the long zygomatic process; Brygmophyseter, which is about the same size and has similar teeth, has a relatively stubby zygomatic process. One point, assuming the mandible is complete, there seem to be 13 teeth in the lower jaw. The only known specimen of Zygophyseter has 14, while the only known Brygmophyseter has 12. That said, most modern toothed whales are highly variable in their tooth counts.

    Also, if you look closely at the tooth close-up in your photo set, you can see that the teeth are worn at their tips (apical wear), and also show occlusal wear from rubbing against the opposing teeth. This seems to be common in the large-toothed sperm whales.

  3. Doug says:

    huh. Maybe when they redo that hall and when the skull comes out of the case, you can fly out here and get a close look at it, ha.

  4. Markus says:

    Perhaps this is interesting for you, a very nice photo of the Brygmophyseter-Skeleton in the japanese museum: http://www.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/buka/soumubu/siga/siga/kasekikan/images/IMG_1579.jpg
    I would really like to know how the spermaceti-organ of Brymophyseter was shaped, sadly I could find no dorsal views of the skull and I don´t have the descrption of this species. I would suppose that this species had still a comparable small spermaceti organ, but I would really like to know why for example at Zygophyseter only the posterior part of the head was covered with the spermacetiy-organ, and what this means for sperm whale evolution in general, i.e. was this a primitive trait or a re-reduction from ancestors which had full-covered rostrums.

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