Monday, April 15, 2013

Return to the Caribbean side of Panama, pt. 2

A couple of Friday's ago, we were set to return to the locality where we had been excavating a relatively large whale skull. Last time we were there we manage to make the jacket around the skull, but the plaster did not dry quickly enough, and we had to leave it, as it was late in the day and the tide was coming in. Unfortunately, due to the change in time of the low tide (happening later and later in the day) as well as other technical problems, we could not go back as soon as we wanted. So we ended up waiting a whole week to return and hopefully finish the job.
A local girl, Pedro, Nicole and Samantha pose next to the jacket.
To our surprise, the jacket held up during the eight days that passed since we made it. Those were good news as it meant that our work and effort from the previous week was not lost and that we didn't had to make a new jacket. Plaster bandages are hard if not impossible to get here in Panama, so I was extremely happy we didn't had to use more than we already had.

Pedro, a local kid, Erik, Nicole and Samantha happily pose next to the large jacket as we get ready to move it to the truck.
We were able to remove the jacket and get it into our truck without further incidents, this wouldn't have been possible without the interns who are doing a great job! To top it off, we even found another tooth associated with the skull. Its not the first one, Aaron had already collected two, which were somewhat incomplete, but hinted at the affinities of the skull. The new tooth we collected is complete, and I can now confidently say that it belongs to a physeterid (a sperm whale)!! Sperm whales are found nowadays in the Caribbean, but their fossil record in the region is relatively poor, with only a handful of reports from a few sites. So this is a fantastic find!
One of the teeth associated with the skull in the jacket. Notice the large root and small enameled crown (to the left of the photo).

Stay tuned, as I'm sure we'll keep finding many other interesting fossils here in Panama.

No comments: