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Discovery of a fossil in the Wando River gives clues to a new kind of whale

College of Charleston adjunct professor of geology Robert W. Boessenecker and the discovered fossil in the College's Mace Brown Museum of National History. Photo by Reese Moore

College of Charleston alumnus Mark Havenstein discovered a whale fossil in the Wando River that is estimated to be 30 million years old. It's thought to be a transitional species, somewhere between primitive whales with hind legs and a modern baleen whale.

College of Charleston adjunct professor of geology Robert W. Boessenecker says the discovery of the whale fossil offers important clues about whales' transition from teeth to baleen, a filter-feeding system inside the mouths of certain species of the aquatic mammal.

The newly discovered species of toothed baleen whale is named Coronodon havensteini. The genus name refers to the mammal's crown-shaped teeth, and the species name is in honor of discoverer.

The fossil is on display at the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at the College of Charleston.

Researchers say the Charleston area is one of the few areas on earth where fossils of the earliest baleen whales can be found.



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