“I’ve been working on a similar whale at the Smithsonian. It is almost the same age and was found in the 1960s in Oregon. It’s a bit soon to know much more, but they are almost certainly not the same species (meaning that they will both be new species). This is pretty important because they both come from a point in geologic time when baleen whales are transitioning from a toothed, “catch and chomp” feeding mechanism to a filter feeding mechanism (baleen). I’m hoping that both whales will help answer how this transition took place.” – Carlos Mauricio Peredo, PhD student at @GeorgeMasonU and research student at the @smithsoniannmnh.
Carlos is at the Burke this week to study the whale skeleton currently on display in our Life and Times gallery! Burke scientists collected the 30-million-year-old whale fossil from the Olympic Peninsula in 1993. It is believed to be the oldest known baleen* whale that is entirely toothless. *Baleen is made of a material like fingernails and forms wiry, comb-like fibers at the edges. The whale takes in mouthfuls of water and forces it out through the baleen. The fibers act as a strainer, catching tiny marine animals, which the whale removes with its tongue. #burkeresearch #whalefossil #paleontology #uw #naturalhistory #seattle #burkemuseum