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Jakarta Post

700,000-year-old whale fossil unearthed in Central Java

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, October 29, 2019   /   03:14 pm
700,000-year-old whale fossil unearthed in Central Java Illustration of a whale. (Shutterstock/Sergey Uryadnikov)

A group of people in Kapuan village, Blora regency, Central Java, was digging a hole for a septic tank in August when they unearthed the bones of a huge animal about 150 centimeters under the ground.

They reported the discovery to the Blora Cultural Agency, which relayed the information to the Sangiran Ancient Human Site Conservation Agency (BPSMP Sangiran).

“Our study found it is a whale fossil. It has a whale’s backbone and scapula,” BPSMP Sangiran's head of protection, Dody Wiranto, said as quoted by kompas.com on Monday.

“This is a very rare discovery. This whale fossil is more than 700,000 years old. It is the first such finding in Central Java,” Dody said, “There was a previous report in Bojonegoro, East Java, that they found a whale fossil there, but it is the first time BPSMP Sangiran has retrieved a whale fossil.”

It took two days for the agency to carefully excavate and arrange 20 bone fragments, which were fossilized in clay, and encase them in plaster jackets to prevent damage during transportation to a small museum in Blora.

“We are studying the [whale’s] size and exact species,” Dody said.

He said finding a whale fossil on land was possible because Java Island, including Blora, was under the sea millions of years ago.

It took 2.5 million years for the island to rise to the surface and become land, which explains the finding of marine fossils in some areas.

Dody said the location where the whale fossil was found used to be under the ocean.

“[The theory] is strengthened by the discovery of coral reefs and seashells around the area where the whale fossil was discovered,” he said. (hol)

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