The strange bone Rowan found yesterday bothered me all night. I was frustrated because there was a large, fresh-looking break (above) and I felt that if I had the rest of the bone I might be able to make a more reliable identification. Unfortunately Rowan found the bone as float, laying out on the surface, so finding the rest was unlikely.
Even so, I decided to spend a few minutes looking over the surface while everyone else opened the pit, and after about 10 minutes I actually found the other half of the bone!
It turns out to be a large crocodile vertebra, seen above in ventral view. This was actually one of several possibilities I had been considering last night. Here it is in dorsal view, which still needs a lot of prep work:
Only the centrum is preserved. The neural arch had not yet fused to the centrum (part of the neural arch attachment is visible at the bottom of the photo), indicating that the animal wasn’t fully grown. While we occasionally find crocodile teeth and armor scutes at Carmel Church, I think this is only the second crocodile vertebra we’ve found there (other than some reworked ones).
We spent the rest of the day pulling blocks of bone and sediment off the various boulders in the pit, discovering several more boulders in the process. Besides all the whale bones we also found several interesting teeth, including this large Otodus tooth, reworked from the Eocene:
I originally thought the small tooth below was from a requiem shark (Carcharhinus), but after getting a closer look at the shape and the large base I think it might be a baby Carcharocles tooth:
Ashley found a small odontocete tooth in the back of the pit:
The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow, and we’re planning a long final day of the excavation.