New Whale Species Unearthed: Project in Laguna Canyon Gives Moby Dick a Run for his Money

First Posted: Feb 18, 2013 03:29 PM EST

A new species of whale discovered from a California highway project in Laguna Canyon is giving Moby Dick a run for his money.

Wired science reports that scientists studying the fossils have identified several new species of baleen whales. The fossils date to 17 to 19 million years ago.

The Laguna Canyon outcrop, excavated between 2000 and 2005, turned out to be a treasure trove containing hundreds of marine mammals that lived 17 million to 19 million years ago. It included 30 cetacean skulls as well as an abundance of other ocean dwellers including sharks. And among those, were four newly identified species of toothed baleen whale-a type of whale that scientists thought had gone extinct 5 million years ago.

While the new species is being referred to as "Willy" for now, modern baleen whales are nothing in comparison to this guy. The fossils show that "Willy" was even bigger in size and structure. 

According to the Advancing Science Serving Society, Scientists report that the whale may have fed on sharks. As modern killer whales also eat shark, the newly found species has similar patterns of wear in their teeth because of the sharks' rough skin.

Whales, the general term for the order Cetacea, comprise two suborders: Odontoceti, or toothed whales, which includes echolocators like dolphins, porpoises, and killer whales; and Mysticeti, or baleen whales, the filter-feeding giants of the deep such as blue whales and humpback whales.The two suborders share a common ancestor.

Want to find out more about Whale fossils. Check out this video, courtesy of YouTube.

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