Carmel Church Day 10

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The plan today was to make a jacket for at least the back half of our remaining baleen whale dentary, while completing the trench for the front half of the same bone. At the same time we would make the bottom jacket for the bones we removed two days ago, disrupting the butterflies that were happily sucking the moisture from the jacket (above). Of course things didn’t work out that way, because of the vast amount of bone we found in the trench behind the dentary. But at least they were interesting bones!

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The first bone we tried to remove from the trench was the one outlined in blue at the extreme right in the photo above. Here’s the bone after removal:

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It turns out this is a left squamosal (the cheek and ear region) of a small baleen whale, seen here in dorsal view. Here’s the type Aglaocetus (from the US national Museum) with the equivalent part of the skull outlined in red:

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Here’s our new squamosal, seen in ventral view (from below):

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It turns out there are some other bones here. In the marked-up version, the exoccipital is outlined in green, while the petrosal (earbone) is in red:

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So far this is the only part of this skull we’ve found, but it’s right up against the wall, and there’s still a lot of bone around.

After lunch, Laura pulled this curious clump of bones out of another part of the trench (this is after quite a bit of cleaning):

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This is actually two bones. Both of them are tympanic bullae, but one of them is incomplete and jammed into the anterior end of the other one. These are odontocete bullae, which are fairly rare at Carmel Church, and so it’s especially interesting that they seem to form a left and right pair:

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Here’s the more complete of the two specimens, after further cleaning:

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This is a tiny, cute little bulla, and I don’t recall seeing one like this from Carmel Church before now. I’m also not certain if these really are a pair, and if they are, what may have jammed the two bones together without preserving the rest of the skull (unless it’s still in the ground).

So we didn’t accomplish any of the goals I set for today, but we got a lot of interesting bones for our efforts.

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

2 Responses to Carmel Church Day 10

  1. Bobby says:

    Nice mysticete squamosal! I’m expecting some follow up pictures once it’s prepared =)

    The posterior process is looking pretty short…

  2. altondooley says:

    Thought you’d like that, Bobby…

    I’m not 100% sure the posterior process is really there (that’s why I dashed it in), but I think it is, and I think it reaches all the way to the lateral margin of the squamosal. There’s some damage where the process attaches to the rest of the petrosal. Regardless, there’s not a lot of room for the process, so it can’t be too long. I should know more after I have a chance to clean it up a bit.

    For those not familiar with whale anatomy, the size and shape of that bone may have some significance in figuring out what kind of whale this is. If you could only pick one area to look at when trying to identify a whale, the squamosal/petrosal region is probably what you would pick.

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