HomeOutdoorsNewsLOOK: Ridiculously Old Whale Skull Fossil Found by Family on Vacation

LOOK: Ridiculously Old Whale Skull Fossil Found by Family on Vacation

by Caitlin Berard
Whale Skull, Skeleton Discovered in Alaska
(Photo by Jaime Moller / EyeEm via Getty Images)

While exploring a beach on the Chesapeake Bay, a Pennsylvania family was searching for shark teeth and fossils when they made a discovery that would make any archaeologist green with envy. Buried among the rock and sediment nearest the rippling tide, the Goddard family spotted an enormous, 650-pound fossilized whale skull.

The shockingly large hunk of bone, thought to be some 12 million years in age, marked the most complete fossilized whale skull ever found in the area.

According to the Calvert Marine Museum (CMM), the ancient fossilized skull, discovered by Cody Goddard, his wife Laura, and his son Brennan, once belonged to a Miocene epoch whale. The Miocene epoch took place around 23 to 5 million years ago, long after the time of the dinosaurs.

Unsure of the exact identity of the fossil but certain that it was something special, Goddard reached out to Dr. Stephen Godfrey, Curator of Paleontology at CMM. After confirming the identity of the whale skull via photo and video, Godfrey rushed to Matoaka Beach in Calvert County to get a closer look at the fossil.

In awe at the size and condition of the fossil, Godfrey set to work creating a plan to unearth it. Finding the fossil was a breeze in comparison to the removal process.

First of all, the skull weighed a staggering 650 pounds with its sediment block. More than that, however, archaeologists had to exercise extra care to ensure the monstrous fossil remained in as impeccable a condition as it was found.

Fossilized Whale Skull Safely Moved From Beach to Museum

Though faced with a daunting challenge, a team of dedicated “paleontology enthusiasts” happily volunteered to move the whale skull to its new home. “It felt like we had won the World Cup of Paleontology!” Dr. Godfrey gushed. “We are so blessed to have so many avocational and professional paleontologists, locally.”

After hours and hours of painstaking effort, volunteers finally lifted the skull from the rock surrounding it. It was then transported to the Calvert Marine Museum. There, museum officials brought it to their Fossil Preparation Lab for the next step of the lengthy process.

Over the course of the next several months, exports will prepare the fossilized whale skull for display. During this time, they’ll learn more about the mysterious mammoth of the sea.

“We don’t yet know what species of Miocene baleen whale this is,” Godfrey said. “That we will only know once it has been prepared. It might even prove to be our greatest preparation challenge, depending on how indurated the entombing sediments are.”

Currently, paleontologists are hard at work removing the hardened sediment with “miniature jackhammers”. With this process complete, the identity of the whale should be revealed. While it’s suspected to be a Miocene baleen whale, it could very well be a brand new species.

Museum officials dubbed the whale skull “Cody” in honor of the man who found it. Though Cody isn’t yet ready for display, patrons are welcome to stop by the Fossil Preparation Lab for a visit.

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