Scotts Valley, California – A 4-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a whale was discovered by experts at a construction site in Santa Cruz County, California, on September 4. The team, which included an archeologist and two paleontologists, was assigned to evaluate a housing project site in Scotts Valley, when the remains were found. The fossil was almost intact and measured about 25 feet in length.

The remnants belonged to a mysticete whale, an ancestor to the baleen whale, according to Scott Armstrong, a scientist from the Los Angeles-based archeological consulting firm Paleo Solutions. The finding included specimens of the skull, jaw, shoulders, arms and vertebrae.

Two paleontologists and an archeologist plaster a mysticete whale skeleton recently unearthed at a Scotts Valley construction site in preparation to move the bones. Credits: Shmuel Thaler / Santa Cruz Sentinel

The digging of the fossils began on September 17 at the construction site, where the team of workers shoveled, cleaned and used intricate pieces of tools to unearth the ancient remnants. The remains are believed to have travelled through the hills as consequence of natural events, such as earthquakes and tectonic plates variations. Armstrong explained that most of the locations that contain a hill have a fault line nearby.

The finding was particularly exciting for experts because of the integrity of the bones. Previous ancient remains discovered on the coasts were usually pieces of the skull and other bones.

“I think of the fossils you get along the coastline, it’s more common to get a piece of the skull or the brain case or some bones. So this sounds like it’s a very impressive find,” said Matthew Clapham, a paleontologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to the Sentinel.

Moreover, the fossils were placed in a plaster to preserve its relatively intact condition and transport it from the site to the Paleo Solutions office located in Monrovia, where further examinations are expected to take place. More investigations of the ancient whale’s bones will offer scientists relevant information regarding to the evolutionary process of whales.

Regarding to similar findings, in 2012, a fossilized skeleton of a small whale was uncovered at the end of 36th Avenue in Pleasure Point. Additionally, in 2009, whale bones were excavated from the bluffs of East Cliff.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel