Category Archives: THAILAND

5,000-year-old Bryde’s whale skeleton unearthed in Thailand

5,000-year-old Bryde’s whale skeleton unearthed in Thailand

An unusual, partly fossilized skeleton belonging to a Bryde whale, estimated to be about 5,000 years old, has been discovered by researchers in Thailand at an inland site west of Bangkok.

At the beginning of November, a skeleton weighing 12.5 meters (41ft), about the length of a truck, was discovered by a cyclist who saw some of the vertebrae coming out of the ground.

Since then, a team of scientists has been excavating the site.

Scientists say the bones need to be carbon-dated to determine the exact age of the skeleton

“This whale skeleton is thought to be the only one in  Asia,” said Pannipa Saetian, a geologist in the Fossil Protection division of the Department of Mineral Resources.

“It’s very rare to find such a discovery in near-perfect condition,” said Pannipa, estimating that about 90 percent of the whale’s skeleton had been recovered.

“Yesterday, we found the right shoulder and fin,” she said, noting that about 36 backbone pieces had been unearthed. The bones needed to be carbon-dated to determine the exact age of the skeleton, she said.

An archaeologist works at the excavation site at Samut Sakhon on Friday.

Once the painstaking process of cleaning and preserving the fragile skeleton is complete, it will be exhibited.

Scientists hope the skeleton will provide more information to aid research into Bryde’s whale populations existing today as well as the geological conditions at the time.

Bryde’s whales, sometimes known as tropical whales for their preference for warmer waters, are found in coastal waters in parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, including in the Gulf of Thailand.

Highly endangered, there are some 200 remaining of the whales in the South Pacific nation’s waters, and about 100,000 worldwide.

In 2016, New Zealand researchers gained insight into a pair of Bryde’s whales feeding off an  Auckland coast in one of the first uses of drone technology to study the animals.

The footage revealed an adult and calf frolicking in the water and using a “lunge” feeding technique to feast on plankton and shoals of small fish.

In 2014, a 10.8-meter-long whale thought to be a Bryde’s whale, washed up at a remote beach in Hong Kong’s New Territories.

Conservationists said it could have died at sea before drifting to an 
the inner bay off Hung Shek Mun, in Plover Cove Country Park.

Thailand: Rare 5,000 Years old whale skeleton discovered

Thailand: Rare 5,000 Years old whale skeleton discovered

In Samut Sakhon, researchers say, an almost fully preserved whale skeleton believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old has been uncovered.

Thailand: Rare 5,000 Years old whale skeleton discovered
The rare whale skeleton discovered in Thailand. It is thought to be up to 5,000 years old.

The bones were discovered about 12 kilometres from the coast in the province just west of Bangkok in early November, the BBC announced on Friday.

The 12-metre-long skeleton is thought to be that of a Bryde’s whale, it said.

Experts hope the find might provide “a window into the past”, especially for research on sea levels and biodiversity.

The partially fossilised bones are “a rare find”, mammal researcher Marcus Chua of the National University of Singapore told the BBC.

“There are few whale subfossils in Asia,” he said, and even fewer ones are “in such good condition”.

Pictures shared by Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-Archa show the bones apparently almost entirely intact.

According to Mr Varawut, more than 80% of the skeleton has so far been recovered, including vertebrae, ribs, fins and one shoulder blade.

The skeleton’s head alone is estimated to be about 3 metres in length.

Mr Chua said the discovery would allow researchers to find out more about the particular species in the past, whether there were any differences compared to today’s Bryde’s whales.

The skeleton will also provide information about the “paleobiological and geological conditions at that time, including sea level estimation, types of sediments, and the contemporary biological communities at that time”.

“So this find provides a window into the past once the skeleton has been dated,” Mr Chua said.

The bones are yet to be carbon-dated to determine their exact age, with the results expected in December.

The Gulf of Thailand has an interesting history in the last 10,000 years, Mr Chua pointed out, with sea levels possibly up to four metres higher than today and active tectonic activity.

Bryde’s whales, which live worldwide in warm temperate and tropical waters, are still found in the waters around Thailand today.