Virginia whale fossil may be 7 million years old

August 24, 2013

The ancient whale fossil dug from the banks of the Potomac River last month was not the only such object to be excavated in Virginia this year. The bones of a whale believed to be 7 million years old were unearthed in the Tidewater region in April.

The remains of many whales that are about 4 or 5 million years old have been found along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, said Rowan Lockwood of the College of William and Mary.

But the whale excavated in April in the Yorktown area was unusual, said Lockwood, a professor of geology and a paleontology specialist who helped excavate the fossil. It was older and bigger, and more of it was intact.

“It is one of the biggest whales of its kind found on the East Coast,” she said. The intact whale could have been 60 feet in length.

Large chunks of shoulder bone and ribs and vertebrae were found, as well as “an amazing flipper,” she said. It’s “very rare to find intact flippers,” Lockwood said.

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