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Were you able to figure out what the mystery fossil this week was?
This is a vertebra, as I am sure most people could readily see. The two centra, the body of the vertebra, are flat to even a little concave, indicating an aquatic creature.
Here is a little more, showing pieces of the jaw.
Here is a picture by Karen Karr showing what the animal may have looked like when alive.
This is a Basilosaurus. The name means “king lizard”. It is an odd misnomer, though, because it is not a reptile at all. It is in fact a true whale, one of the first to have flippers rather than legs. Fossils of Basilosaurus have mostly been found in Alabama and a few other places in the southern United States, but the partial skeleton of one was found near Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas.
An unexpected museum trip has presented itself to me, so this post will be short, but come back Monday for a more detailed discussion of Basilosaurus, the “bone crusher”.