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Finding the Whale
Cleaning the Whale
Dem Bones
Laying out the skeleton
Page was last updated on 04/05/99
This page contains several images of the whale's bones, so it may take a while to load. 
Whale bone

This is one of the chevron bones.  The whale favored one side of her body so much that the mucles actually pulled the end of this bone over to one side - it should be straight!  The ruler shown is 12 inches.

Whale ear

The jawmuscle of the whale was attached to this large cavity, above the eyesocket, or orbit.  The orbit is drying out faster than the rest of the skull, so it's outlined in whiter, drier bone tissue.

Whale skull seen from frontThe skull, seen from the front.   Unfortunately the right side is cast in shadow, but you're looking at the supra-cranial basin, shaped like a parabolic dish inside the whale's head, that some scientists think acts as an acoustic amplifier for their echolocation abilities.
Side view of whale skull

A profile view of the skull.  That little piece of wood down towards the tip is a 12-inch ruler.  The skull is shown right side up.  The large bulbous part of the whale's head, when alive, is a fleshy cavern full of spermaceti, the oil which made the sperm whale so valuable to whalers in the 19th century. The melon, a feature of all cetaceans, was also located in this large basin formed by the skull.

Back of skull

The back of the skull.  The tympanic bulla, which are rarely found in scavenged whales, are located inside the skull cavity under each of the two lobes at the bottom of the skull.  They are lumps of bone around the size of a small adult's fist and contain the whale's inner ear bones (the hammer, anvil, and stirrup).  In the 19th century, these tympanic bulla were prized by whalers and given to the captains as souvenirs.  Facing you directly is the occipital protruberance, where the spinal column attached to the skull.



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Page was last updated on 04/05/99


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