With the diplodocid ilium out of the sandbox, we’ve been able to pick up the pace on our preparation of the Carmel Church whale “Picasso”. This rather badly crushed and weathered specimen, which includes a skull and the anterior part of the skeleton, was collected in 2005.
One of the first unusual things we noticed during preparation was that the skull jacket contained three tympanic bullae; each whale only has two bullae. Moreover, the three bullae were all lying in a pile together above the right eye socket, which is a little unusual since the bulla is part of the ear (this is the reason we named the whale “Picasso”).
This week we found a fourth tympanic bulla in “Picasso’s” skull jacket (the new one is on the upper left in the image above). This one was found just lateral to the postglenoid process of the squamosal, which is at least vaguely close to where it’s supposed to be (as opposed to over the eye).
As you can see from the photo, the four bullae actually seem to make two pairs, with left and right specimens of two different shapes. This creates a bit of a problem for me; which pair actually belongs to “Picasso”?
“Picasso” will have to wait a bit; on Monday I’ll be starting a new two-week excavation at Carmel Church. We have a virtual army of volunteers helping out this time, and I anticipate one of our biggest excavations in years. As usual, I’ll be posting updates on the blog each evening, as well as Twitter updates throughout the course of each day.