December 15, 2010

Update on the Lake Waccamaw Whale Fossil

As some of you may recall, a whale skull was discovered in Lake Waccamaw a few years back. The discovery of the skull was detailed in the NC Division of Parks and Recreation publication The Steward, the Wilmington Star and WECT.

The accidental discovery was made by Cathy Nelson who was swimming off her lake pier. While swimming, she continued to bump her foot on something in the water and when she investigated further, she uncovered what would become an extremely rare fossil find. [Photo from the Steward article]

The remains of the whale were eventually removed from the lake and sent off to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for detailed study.

The other day, I came across an interesting
blog post written by Dr. Alton Dooley from the Virginia Museum of Natural History (December 10, 2010). He recently studied the skull and he posted some photos as well as discussed some of the findings. As stated in his blog post, the whale skull has been identified as that of a right whale and it is approximately 2.8 million years old.

Once the research is complete, the NC museum plans to place the skull on exhibit at the Lake Waccamaw State Park visitor center. But even when displayed, the exhibit will be accessible for any possible future scientific study.

Make sure to click on the blog post and news articles to view more photos and to read about this impressive discovery. [Fossil photo from Dr. Dooley's blog post]

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