Immaculately preserved skeleton of a 39-foot leviathan discovered in Thailand is thought to be up to 5,000 years old
The immaculately preserved remains of a 39-foot whale unearthed in Thailand is thought to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old, experts have estimated.
Researchers found the partially-fossilised bones — which belonged to a Bryde’s whale — some 7.5 miles from the coast in Samut Sakhon, west of Bangkok.
Bryde’s whales, which can grow to 13–28 tons in weight, live in tropical and warm temperate seas worldwide and are still found in the waters around Thailand today.
Over the last 10,000 years, tectonic activity has raised the region some 13 feet relative to sea level. This explains how the whale ended up on what is now land.
Mammal researcher Marcus Chua of the National University of Singapore told the BBC that the exceptionally preserved bones represented ‘a rare find’.
‘There are few whale subfossils in Asia,’ he explained, with even fewer, the expert added, being ‘in such good condition’.
Images of the whale skeleton were shared on Facebook by Thailand’s environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, the son of the country’s former prime minister.
Around four-fifths of the remains — which are being carefully excavated from the surrounding clay by researchers from Thailand’s departments of Mineral Resources and Marine and Coastal Resources — have been recovered so far.
The skeleton includes a head that is nearly 10 feet in length, along with fins, ribs, vertebrae and one shoulder blade.
Researchers have also uncovered other remains — including those of barnacles, crabs, shark teeth and stingrays.
The whale bones will soon be carbon-dated to provide a more accurate estimate of the whale’s age — with results expected to come next month.
According to Mr Chua, the find will help researchers to better understand how Bryde’s whales lived thousands of years ago
reveal how they might have differed in the past.
The remains will also shine a light, he told the BBC, on the ‘palaeobiological and geological conditions at that time — including sea level estimation, types of sediments and the contemporary biological communities.’
‘This find [will provide] a window into the past once the skeleton has been dated.’