We found this whale rib yesterday in the sea in Kerala. (I presume it is a whale rib!?) Anyone any idea what whale it might have been from? It is 1.5m tip to tip across the chord. The section is generally 8.5 cm x 4.0 cm.
Yes this does look like a whale rib and from the size it could not be anything else. Identifying the species is more difficult, I have the original paper describing Minke whale and it gives the longest rib at 70cm (2 foot 3.5 inches). For the Humpback whale the longest is 150cm (4 foot 11 inches). Sperm whale are upto 187cm (74inches). Of course these are the longest ribs for each species so your rib may be one of the shorter ones. I know there have been a number of Bryde's whale washed up in Kerala recently but I don't have the size of the ribs! I would GUESS that they would be about this size. So you are looking at a large whale, much larger than a Minke but unlikely to be as large as a Blue whale.
Thanks John, this is helpful. do post any more info if you get any. And by the way are the measurements you gave measured along the curve of the rib or across the chord tip to tip? Our whale rib is 1.50m tip to tip and 1.85m measured along curve.
In the Minke whale the measurements were taken 'along the convex border'. In the Humpback from the 'tubercle to tip' and in the Sperm 'in a straight line'. For the humpback along the curve was 80 inches for a 63 inch straight line. I have just noticed some measurements from a blue whale, longest rib 67inches in a straight line, 82inches along the curve. There is also mention of a difference between toothed whale and baleen whale ribs in the 'thickness'; In a humpback the mid point of the longest rib was 2.75x2.0 inches, in a blue 2.75x1.2inches and in a sperm 9.5 circumference. Another approach is to do an internet search of the #exact place you found it and 'whale' and see what comes up! All the Best.
Dear John, thanks very helpful answers.
we have now found a vertebra of the whale, see photos and sketch attached.
The dimensions are:
Overall Width 29”
Overall Height 19”
The hub is 8.5 inches wide, 6” high and 7.5 inches long
A fisherman, on seeing it, says his father had got a similar one years ago from nearby, within a quarter of mile. Also that when his father got it it still had some pieces of flesh on it. That was about 30 –35 years back. I gave this person a lift home and he showed me it. It is rather smaller than the one we found today, but perhaps from further down the spine. Anyway, there is quite some decay and erosion on the one we found today, so possibly they are from the same whale that died and decayed on the bottom here some 35 years ago?
Thats fantastic! The tip of the transverse process is wide which means a rib attaches here and this makes it a thoracic vertebra, however, it is more the shape of a lumbar vertebra so it is the vertebra for one of the last few ribs. The size will give a good indication of the species BUT I have looked through all the descriptions of whale skeletons that I have and none of them give the size of vertebra for the large whales.