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News about a fossil whale found in Taiwan.

Below article from CHINA NEWS reprinted for fair use purposes only -- copyright acknowledged.

This Megalania page has been visited times since April 10, 1998.

Copyright 1998 CHINA NEWS

Copyright 1998 FT Asia Intelligence Wire

April 4, 1998


HEADLINE: First whale fossil unearthed

BODY: The recent discovery of a well-preserved fossil of what is believed to be a "false" killer whale in northern Taiwan could be a landmark in the understanding of Taiwan's prehistoric creatures and environment, the National Museum of National Sciences reported yesterday.

A complete fossil of the whale -- comprising the head, teeth, spine and ribs -- was excavated in a month-long dig 200 meters above sea level near Yuanli in Taiwan's northern Miaoli County in January, the first such find in Taiwan's history.

A group of brick makers came across the head of what they thought was a dinosaur when they were digging for clay. Researchers with the museum who were called to the site immediately ruled out this possibility because Taiwan, located on an area of "new plates," was never home to any kind of dinosaur, according to Professor Cheng Yen-nian, director of the museum's geological team.

After excavating the rest of the remains and transporting them back to the museum, researchers studied the fossils and determined after several days that they belonged to a whale dating back 1 million to 2 million years, during the Pleistocene Epoch.

A number of clues revealed the identity of the animal, Cheng said.

The relatively large teeth show this whale belongs to one of the three species of "odontoceti," or "toothed whales," which include killer whales, false killer whales and pilot whales, he said.

The paleontologists were able to determine from the length of the jaw that the fossil is that of a false killer whale rather than of one of the other kinds of toothed whales, Cheng noted.

This specimen is about eight-meters long, significantly longer than both other fossils of this kind of creature and the six-meter false killer whales of today, leading the researchers to believe that they had discovered a new type, which they have named the Yuanli false killer whale.

The scientists believe the whale died in shallow sea water in an area that was later raised by drastic geologic shifts. In adjacent rocks, they also found petrified wood and fossils of shells and other sea creatures.

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