As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.

My whale vertebra


This is a shorter than normal post than I normally write for this week, because I've been preparing for my talk at the Bath Childrens' Literature Festival tomorrow (I'm actually writing this post from my hotel in England). So I thought I'd write a quick post about a very interesting bone I was given.

It was a gift from the man who runs the village shop, who found it in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, when he was about my age. I live about as far away from the coast as it is possible to get in Scotland, so I'm always excited by bones from sea birds and mammals. This one is particularly interesting, and is so massive it has to go on top of my display cabinets with my cow and pig skulls.

Here's an indication of how big it actually is (the inside edge of the scale ruler is 15cm).

It feels extremely solid, more so than other bones I have. Tapping the centre disk feels more like it is made of wood, and it feels thick and solid all the way through.

So what type of whale was it from ? I looked at the type of whales that you can find off of Oban, and the most likely type, from the size, was a Minke whale. I couldn't find any size guides to identifying it exactly, but I'm reasonably sure although I need to identify it properly.

The reason I need to identify it properly is because like all whales and dolphins, to have it legally you need to have a European Protected Species Licence. I already have one of these for my otter skull, my harbour porpoise skull and my pipistrelle bat skeleton, so I need to have this vertebra added to it.

It's a pretty amazing bone in itself: bigger bones are great for seeing details, and great for showing people and handing round. If you're at my talk at the Guildhall in Bath today, you'll see it then. Look forward to seeing you if you're coming: if not, I'll be blogging about it next week !

Enjoy this post ? Share it !


Melanie said...

Wow! That's amazing! :-)

Lee Post said...

Hi Jake , I'll try to get you a little closer to an ID . From the growth plates being totally fused and not even visible we know it is from a totally mature whale . From the shape and from those wide lateral processes we know it is one of the biggest lumbar vertebrae on that whale . From the shape of the bone we know it isn't from a right whale or a sperm whale . From the appx 30 cm diameter body, it has to come from a whale 12.5-14 meters long . This leaves it being a rorqual whale bigger than a minke and smaller than a fin whale .
You will have to take it from there .

sedruff said...

That is so amazing! And that it has backstory from the man who gave it to you is really cool, too! :)

Jake said...

Brilliant ! Thanks for that, Mr Post !

Jake said...

It's a really nice bone to have.

Jake said...

It's nice that he enjoyed it as a boy and has now passed it on.

Free counters!