Minda Berbeco's picture

Answer Monday!


Photo Credit: mikebaird via Compfight cc

Last week I shared a whale of a tale of a fossil...of a whale!  What was that jumble of bones you saw?  Why, it's a baby whale from the very famous "Valley of the Whales", a UNESCO Heritage Site in Egypt. The photo was snapped by my colleague Josh Rosenau during a trip he took out there a few years ago.

What type of whale was it?  A baby Dorudon. 

From the NY Insitute of Technology:

"Dorudon atrox is known from the famous 'Valley of the Whales' locality (Wadi al Hitan) in Egypt, indicating that it inhabited the ancient Tethys Sea, which used to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.

"Because Dorudon has a very large hole (foramen) in the lower jaw like modern toothed whales, it is likely that Dorudon was able to hear underwater in a similar manner. Additionally, the jaw adjacent to this hole is very thin, suggesting that sound waves could travel through the bone and then a fat pad, which channeled sound waves into the bony middle and inner ears. Additionally, features of the inner ear indicate that Dorudon was not able to detect high frequency sounds like modern odontocetes, and therefore could not echo-locate."

Kudos to those who tried—and failed—to identify this week's Fossil Friday.