The boulder containing a whale-skull fossil that takes an experienced eye to make out.
Here’s one whale of a tale – literally.
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Meet Martin Byhower, seventh-grade science teacher at Chadwick School, on Southern California’s Palos Verdes peninsula.
He has taught there for 30 years!
Every day, Byhower passes the same buildings, same lawns, same rocks.
Those rocks at Chadwick are interesting. They’re sedimentary boulders of what's called Altamira shale. Twelve million years ago, in the Miocene epoch, Southern California was under a shallow sea. Sea creatures died and sank into the sand. The compressed sediment eventually turned to stone, stone full of fossils.
Recently, Byhower had a marine paleontologist examine the boulders. Howell Thomas of Los Angeles County’s Natural History Museum.
One yard-long boulder caught Thomas's eye. Jutting out one end, he saw a fossilized jaw. The other end? The base of a skull. His conclusion? A sperm-whale skull. Probably a new species!
His lab will chip away the surrounding rock to see the entire skull.
If it is a new species, they may name it after the school.
Pretty killer Show and Tell!
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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.