Whale Vertebrae Fossil
discovered by Timothy Huang
Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China
A fossil whale vertebrae dug out (December 1998)
from the ErJiou Formation of the late Miocene epoch
"I recently dug out a whale vertebrae fossil, from a late Miocene formation. The diameter of the vertebrae is 25 cm in one direction, and 20 cm in the other axis. From the end of the rib to the end of the other rib is 81 cm (including the central vertebrae), and the spinal bone is 29 cm. I am wondering what kind of whale could this be?
As far as we know, this is probably the oldest mammal ever found in Taiwan, and is the number 4 whale fossil ever found here. The other three were from the formation of about 2 million years."
Timothy was told that from the diameter ratio and the shape of the spinal bone, it's possilbe to make some identifications. However, in Taiwan, he was unable to find such a person to help him or find any books that he could use.
Recent correspondence with Dr. Hiroto Ichishima Ph.D. of the Fukui Dinosaur Museum Project in Japan suggests that the fossil belongs to a baleen whale.
Dr. Ichishima stated:
"Judging by the size of the vertebrae and the age of the strata whence the specimen came, it could belong to a baleen whale likely. The modern type of gigantic baleen whales, like Balaenoptera (including sei, fin, and blue whales) started to appear in the Late Miocene. See, for example, Barnes, L.G. 1984, 1987; Fordyce and Barnes 1994."
"Are incomplete bullae included among them?", he asked.
Recently, Timothy has discovered another bone. This second fossil was unearthed about 1 km. down stream from the first, big vertebrae.
"I think it is a tail vertebrae", he said. "But I am not sure if it belongs to the same animal."
Comments and suggestions on this discovery to:
389, Sec. 2, JrShan Road,
Taipei, Taiwan 111,
Republic of China
Tel: 886-2-2841-4552 Fax: 886-2-2841-4552
email: timd_huang AT mail.formac.com.tw - web: http://www.apple.com.tw/RockComp