Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dr Vector's Science Challenge - SOLVED


As Darren postulated, it is a distal caudal (back end of tail) vertebra from a whale. Gray, in this case.

I thought the string and the writing visible on the bottom side (in the original photo; posterior face in real life) would give away the scale, and once you know that... The thing is almost exactly 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter.

The big holes are vascular foramina for the passage of blood vessels. As you can see in the CT image, they go right through the vert.

Sigh. Next time I'll pick something harder. Thanks all for playing. Darren, I have no idea what your prize will be, but it will probably be or involve a lot of beer.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Darren Naish said...

Good to know that my genius remains untarnished. I demand the rest of the skeleton as the prize.

Just as good however.. would be a discussion of why whales have these paired foramina. I was under the impression that they are odd among tetrapods: I know they pop up in some other groups, and are conventionally regarded as characteristic of plesiosaurs. Any thoughts, or am I just naive?

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Sarda Sahney said...

Good job, Darren, I would not have been able to get it down as specifically as you.

2:31 PM  

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