Advertisement

Nature

Giant Skull Washes Up On New Jersey Beach, The Internet Is Less Than Helpful Identifying It

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJun 3 2021, 12:31 UTC
Thankfully, it is not the skull of Big Bird, nor the offspring of Cthulu.

Thankfully, it is not the skull of Big Bird, nor the offspring of Cthulu. Image credit: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection / Twitter (Public Domain)

Everybody loves a mystery skull (with the notable exception of the animal who left it, of course), and this one is a biggie.

Advertisement

Following a storm in New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was called to check out a truly massive skull. Unsure what it was, they asked for help from the Internet, which was less than helpful, even if people were technically correct that it was "some Donnie Darko-ish nightmare right there".

-
-
-

Answers ranged from "octopus beak" to "Jimmy Hoffa", and obviously Cthulu.

-
-

Thankfully, it is not the skull of Big Bird, nor the offspring of Cthulu. Whale scientist and comparative anatomist specializing in marine mammals Joy Reidenberg confirmed to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that it is the skull of a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), adding that she would gladly give it a home.

Though the smallest of the "great whale" family, they are undeniably massive, reaching up to 10.7 meters (35 feet) long and weighing up to 9,072 kilograms (20,000 pounds). The whales are filter feeders, and can open their large lower jaws to almost 90 degrees.

The baleen of a humpback whale. Open wide. Image credit: John Tunney/Shutterstock

The pressure forces smaller prey into their mouths, before they clamp shut. Their massive tongues – a favorite food of killer whales – then force the water out through the baleen, rows of hair-like material that allows the water to pass through while retaining the whale's food.

 


 THIS WEEK IN IFLSCIENCE

Receive our biggest science stories to your inbox weekly!


Nature
  • whales,

  • skulls,

  • cetaceans,

  • twitter,

  • minke whales,

  • new jersey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR