Prehistoric whale reconstruction after fossil discovery

Palaeontologists of the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (KBIN) are currently reconstructing the skeleton of a prehistoric ancestor of the Greenland right whale or bowhead whale.

The remains of the prehistoric giant were discovered during digging works for the Deurganck dock for the port of Antwerp. This happened at a depth of 11 metres. Due to the big number of fossil bones that were found, investigators realised that it could be an important discovery. It soon became clear that the bones belonged to a whale that lived 3 to 4 million years ago.

All bones were excavated with great care. The lower jaw had a length of 3 metres, which meant that the animal had a size of 8 to 10 metres. It was, however, the discovery of the ossicle that allowed researchers to determine which type of whale they had unearthed. The fossils are being cleaned in a lab and treated with resin. They will be put together with glue, and should be on display for the public at a later stage.

Photos: Stijn Goolaerts and Olivier Lambert