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ZOOARCH  July 2009

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Subject:

FW: [ZOOARCH] 18th century whale bone from Greenwich

From:

"Moore, Elizabeth (VMNH)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moore, Elizabeth (VMNH)

Date:

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 13:29:09 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (176 lines)

Jessica,
See the message below from Butch Dooley (his specialty is fossil
whales).
Elizabeth 


Elizabeth A. Moore, PhD
Curator of Archaeology
Virginia Museum of Natural History
21 Starling Avenue
Martinsville, VA  24112
[log in to unmask]
276 634-4176
Visit the Archaeology Lab blog   here 

The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
-Mark Twain





-----Original Message-----
From: Dooley, Alton (VMNH) 
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:45 AM
To: Moore, Elizabeth (VMNH)
Subject: RE: [ZOOARCH] 18th century whale bone from Greenwich

Wow, I'm not sure, at least from these photos.

A few observations:

Are you sure it's a whale, and not some big terrestrial mammal?

Assuming it's a whale, from the size, it almost has to be a baleen whale
or a sperm whale (although beaked whales and big killer whales can get
that big, they're less likely). 

The bone looks pretty dense for a whale, and that's going to limit what
part of the body it came from. Most whale bone (especially in baleen
whales) is much spongier.

The big foramen is significant, I think.

The general shape is similar to a vertebral transverse process that's
been broken off of the centrum. However, the big foramen would seem to
rule that out. Also, the bone seems too dense for that.

Some whales (gray whales, for example) have large (fist-sized) maxillary
foramina. However, this bone seems too dense for the maxilla, the shape
isn't right, and I don't see any vascular grooves for baleen plates.

Forelimb bones in whales are much spongier than this, and the foramen
isn't consistent with any forelimb elements.

All that said, my best guess (and it's just a guess) is to compare this
to the premaxilla of a sperm whale. The premaxilla is quite dense in
whales, but I think only baleen whales and sperm whales could have a
premaxilla this large. Moreover, the presence of a premaxillary foramen
in a defining character of toothed whales, so sperm whales have it, but
baleen whales don't. Incidentally, in sperm whales the left premaxillary
foramen has been lost, so it would have to be the right premaxilla.

A sperm whale would also be consistent with whaling practices from that
period.

So, I'm by no means confident about that ID, but it's my best guess from
these photos.

Butch

Dr. Alton C. Dooley, Jr.
Assistant Curator of Paleontology
Virginia Museum of Natural History
21 Starling Avenue
Martinsville, VA 24112
[log in to unmask]
(276)634-4173
www.vmnh.net
--------
Visit the VMNH Vertebrate Paleontology Blog at:
http://www.paleolab.org



-----Original Message-----
From: Moore, Elizabeth (VMNH)
Sent: Wed 7/15/2009 8:44 AM
To: Dooley, Alton (VMNH)
Subject: FW: [ZOOARCH] 18th century whale bone from Greenwich
 
Butch,
Thought you might be able to assist Jessica with this whale bone
question.
Elizabeth
 

Elizabeth A. Moore, PhD
Curator of Archaeology
Virginia Museum of Natural History
21 Starling Avenue
Martinsville, VA  24112
[log in to unmask]
276 634-4176 
Visit the Archaeology Lab blog   here
<http://web.mac.com/elizmoore/Site_2/Blog/Blog.html>  

The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
-Mark Twain




 

________________________________

From: Analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jessica Grimm
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:32 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ZOOARCH] 18th century whale bone from Greenwich



Hi all,

 

I need some help with the identification of a whale bone. I don't even
know which bone it is. Please, have a look at the photos:

 

http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/icaz/icazForum/viewtopic.php?p=1299#129
9

 

Many thanks, Jessica

____________________________
Jessica Grimm MA AIFA   
Zooarchaeologist


Wessex Archaeology Ltd
Portway House, Old Sarum Park, Salisbury, Wilts. SP4 6EB

Tel No:- +44 (0)1722 326867
Fax No:- +44 (0)1722 337562
Website: www.wessexarch.co.uk <blocked::www.wessexarch.co.uk> 

P Before printing, think about the environment

 

Wessex Archaeology Ltd is a company limited by guarantee registered in
England & Wales, number 1712772.

A registered charity, number 287786, and is registered as an
archaeological organisation with the Institute of Field Archaeologists.

Registered Office Portway House, Old Sarum Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire,
SP4 6EB.

 

This email is only for the use of the addressee. It may contain
information which is legally privileged, confidential and exempt from
disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient you must not copy,
distribute or disseminate this email or any enclosures to anyone other
than the addressee. If you receive this communication in error, please
advise us by telephone immediately.

 

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