Thursday, June 14, 2007

 

Weapon fragment found in whale reveals it was more than a century old

‘A 45-tonne bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt – more than a century ago.

Embedded deep under its blubber was a 13-centimetre arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale’s age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old.

“No other finding has been this precise,” said John Bockstoce, an adjunct curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.

Calculating a whale’s age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses. It is rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old.’




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