Atlantic whale fossil spurs research


UGA scientists are hoping to connect fossil remains of an Atlantic gray whale, which were hunted to extinction by the 1700s, to the Pacific gray whale, which exists in populations near pre-whaling levels.

UGA researchers, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, discovered and fully recovered the large fossilized whalebone near Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary approximately 20 miles off the Georgia coast in 2008. The discovery was published in the journal Paleontologica Electronica in November.
The recovery of the fossil required two years, as it was embedded in substrate at the bottom of the ocean, 70 feet below the surface. The bone was radiocarbon dated to approximately 36,000 years. A joint UGA and Emory University team restored the bone for study and display.

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