Teen unearths 34 million-yar-old whale skull on her family’s Alabama timber farm.

In a remarkable discovery, a 16-year-old student and her teacher have unearthed the fossilized skull of a whale that roamed the seas 34 million years ago during the Eocene epoch. Lindsey Stallworth, a junior at the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science, and her teacher, Drew Gentry, a paleontologist and biology instructor, made the find while on a summer school project searching for shark teeth on their family’s timber property.

The fossil, a well-preserved skull measuring approximately 3 feet long and weighing around 120 pounds, belongs to a basilosaurid, an ancient group of whales known for their elongated bodies and tiny hind limbs. Basilosaurids are considered the ancestors of modern whales and dolphins.

Stallworth, recounting the moment of discovery, said, “I just kind of stood there for a solid two minutes staring at it, thinking, ‘What have we actually found?’ It was just mind-blowing.”

Drew Gentry, who has significant experience in paleontology, expressed the rarity and significance of their find. “It’s one of the most important specimens I’ve ever been a part of,” he noted in an interview with Live Science.

The fossil was discovered in Monroe County, an area that was once submerged under a shallow sea during the Eocene epoch, now known as the Eocene-Oligocene Gulf Coastal Plain. This prehistoric marine environment was teeming with diverse life, including sharks, rays, turtles, crocodiles, and ancient whales.

Stallworth and Gentry have decided to donate the whale skull to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, where it will undergo cleaning and further scientific study. They also intend to return to the site to search for more fossils, potentially shedding more light on the area’s rich prehistoric history.

Reflecting on the experience, Stallworth shared how it has ignited her passion for paleontology and inspired her to pursue a career in science. “It’s just amazing to think that something that big and that old was right under our feet,” she said.

This discovery adds a valuable piece to the puzzle of whale evolution and the prehistoric history of Alabama’s coastal region, offering scientists and researchers a unique glimpse into the ancient marine world that once thrived in the area.

Stay tuned for further updates as scientists delve deeper into the secrets this 34-million-year-old whale skull holds.





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