Whale Bone at Hendry's Beach
We take frequent walks along Hendry’s beach and over the years have collected “tons” of rocks, sea glass, and a few occasional transportable whale bone fossils. I came across one specimen that I thought was a tightly folded piece of Monterey formation and brought it home. It is a very dense and hard rock, that’s how it survived the surf.
Later on, I cut the rock and was surprised to see that it was actually bone material. I polished several sides and kept the end pieces. I have attached scans of the cut surfaces and would like to see if anyone can help me out with what kind of bones they are. I’d be happy to bring it all in for someone to get a better look.
Thank you for the message and images. You’re right that this is probably fossil whale material, but it’s hard to tell from the photos which bones. They might be cross-sections of ribs or the spinal processes (i.e., the protrusions on the spine). If you want to make an appointment to bring them by, I’d be happy to take a closer look. I have some availability during the weeks of 6/11 and 6/18.
Typically we can learn more about a specimen when it has been collected with detailed information about its context. This is a good reason for abiding by the fossil-collecting best practices imposed by state and federal laws (discussed in an another Ask a Curator question). While I hope your awareness of those laws informs your collecting habits, don’t let them scare you away from the Museum if you didn’t know the rules. We welcome opportunities to learn from specimens and help people understand ways to appreciate fossils legally.
Jonathan Hoffman, Dibblee Collection Manager of Earth Science