Ancient whale skeleton uncovered under Swedish motorway
Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 1 Jun 2009, 09:34
Published: 01 Jun 2009 09:34 GMT+02:00
The skeleton of the ancient whale is 15-20 metres long and is as good as intact, according to a statement from Gothenburg University, whose team of zoologists are examining the find which was made in the middle of April south of the small community of Skee.
The researchers are keen to establish whether the find is the mystical "Swedenborg's whale". They have so far been able to confirm that the skeleton is of a right whale.
There are currently four identified species of right whale and the university reports that the size and dimensions of the bones indicate that the whale could belong to a fifth species - identified by the natural scientist Emmanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century.
"There are previous skeleton finds in western Sweden which are believed to be the Swedenborg right whale. But to determine the species of whale bones found buried in soil is complicated and it is therefore not yet ascertained whether the whale actually existed," explained Thomas Dahlgren, a zoologist who is leading the research at Gothenburg University.
Dahlgren and his colleague Leif Jonsson are now working with researchers at the Natural History Museum in London to analyse DNA tests collected from the skeleton.
The discovery has also generated excitement as traces were found of several further marine organisms, including several extinct species.
The whale skeleton is thought to be 10,000 years-old and was found 75 metres above sea level, a location which at the time lay a distance out to sea.
Discussions are currently ongoing as to whether the bones can be put on display for the general public.