Thai researchers uncover a uncommon whale skeleton


© Reuters. Thai archaeologists clean a whale skeleton in Pathum Thani


From Juarawee Kittisilpa

SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand (Reuters) – Thai researchers have discovered a rare, partially fossilized skeleton belonging to an approximately 5,000-year-old Bryde’s whale at a location inland west of Bangkok.

The 12.5-meter-long skeleton was found in early November by a cyclist who discovered part of a vertebra emerging from the ground. Since then it has been excavated.

“This whale skeleton is believed to be the only one in Asia,” said Pannipa Saetian, a geologist in the Department of Fossil Conservation at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“It is very rare for such a discovery to be found in near-perfect condition,” Pannipa said, estimating that about 90% of the whale’s skeleton had been recovered.

“Yesterday we found the right shoulder and fin,” she said, noting that about 36 pieces of spine had been excavated.

The bones had to be carbon dated to determine the exact age of the skeleton, she said.

Once the delicate process of cleaning and preserving the fragile skeleton is completed, it will be exhibited.

Scientists hope the skeleton will provide more information to aid research into Bryde’s whale populations today, as well as the geological conditions at the time.

Bryde whales, sometimes known as tropical whales because they prefer warmer waters, are found in coastal waters in parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, including the Gulf of Thailand.

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