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Rare whale fossil discovered in Santa Cruz


A 4-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a whale was discovered at a construction site in Santa Cruz county, NWR reports.

The relatively intact fossil is around 25 feet long and Pieces of the skull, a large part of the jaw, shoulder blades, arm bones and vertebrae were found.

It was discovered by a paleontologist who was assigned the monitoring of a housing development in Scotts Valley.

Matthew Clapham, a paleontologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the fossil found at Scotts Valley find is rare because of how intact the bones are.

"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," Clapham told the Sentinel. "So this sounds like it's a very impressive find."

The remains of the fossil have been traced back to a mysticete whale, an ancestor to the baleen whale, said Scott Armstrong, a scientist with Paleo Solutions, a Los Angeles County-based archaeological consulting service.

Armstrong said that the bones had made their way into the hills due to earthquakes and shifting of the tectonic plates.

"Most places where you see a hill, somewhere there's a fault line nearby pushing it up," he said. "They're relatively inactive faults. But yeah, it's from lifting thousands, maybe millions of years ago."

Scientists secured the fossil bones in plaster to safeguard the fossil's integrity and make transport easier. The fossil bones will travel to the Monrovia offices of Paleo Solutions for further research.

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