Wednesday, November 17, 2010

At long last: a new skull of Herpetocetus bramblei

A while ago I posted about some fieldwork I did over the summer regarding a brand new skull of Herpetocetus bramblei. For those of you cetaceophiles, I'm posting pictures of the partially prepared new specimen. As previously mentioned, I suspected the rostrum was offset by quite a bit. Turns out I was right, and it is really offset.
This is after approximately forty hours of preparation, over about two months. I've been really busy working on all sorts of things, including my thesis, and preparation has been going slow. Also, preparation is slightly more difficult due to the much finer sediment - its sandy siltstone - which is hard when dry and easily scraped when damp, although it dries out really, really quickly.

You'll notice a bunch of other offset portions - alas, the skull is a bit more chopped up than I would prefer. That being said, it does look pretty damn cool. All the small fractures and microfaults are left-lateral (sinistral).
The fractures and their relative movement.

I decided to palinspastically restore the rostrum of this skull using photoshop; in addition to left-lateral movement, there's some vertical axis rotation in some of the blocks, so I had to play around with that a bit. Anyway, here's what the complete thing should look like.

And here it is for comparison with my other skull, which is quite a bit larger; I think this new one is from a juvenile. They are reduced to roughly the same size here. In fact, it looks like I could have made the new specimen a bit larger. Herpetocetus has a pretty long schnoz, that's for sure. That's not terribly surprising, given what we know about Piscobalaena.

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