15-Million-Year-Old Whale Skull Unearthed in Maryland

Last month, experts from the Calvert Marine Museum in southern Maryland, unearthed a six-foot long, 1,000 pound prehistoric whale skull from cliffs on the edge of the Potomac on the grounds of Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee.

An article from the Washington Post reports the area is ripe with marine fossils, and in the past, fossil hunters have found shark teeth and other whale bones there from long ago. But John Nance, paleontology collections manager at the Calvert Marine Museum, says based on surrounding geologic formations, the latest find may be one of the most ancient at an estimated 15 million years old.

The skull was actually discovered in June by a husband and wife team of fossil hunters walking the beach. They alerted Calvert faculty members working at a nearby dig, who immediately started digging with around the bone with picks and putty knives. The entire piece was finally removed from the earth on July 20, wrapped in plaster and burlap, and transported to the marine museum.

The skull is believed to be from a baleen whale, a species long extinct, that probably measured 25 feet long from tip to tail, but scientists won’t know for sure until the rest of the skeleton is exhumed and examined.