Pictures of vertebra with inches scale in background, washed up on South Coast of England, from recently dead specimen. Thank you very much for you help, item will be displayed in Lab for marine biology students.
I thought I had seen this before
There is no photo of the underside of the vertebra but the proximal intervertebral disc looks round (photo21) whilst the distal intervertebral disc (photo16) looks to have a 'flat bottom'. This change occurs between the lumbar and caudal vertebra, the odd 'deformaties' at the ventral aspect of the distal intervertebral disc are where the Chevron bone articulates. So if you look on the ventral sufrace of the body and there is a single ridge at the intervertabral disc corresponding to photo21 and two ridges at the disc corresponding to photo 16 this is the First Caudal. If not it is not far from this position. Species; this is a single page extract from a paper read November 14th 1867 by William Henry Flower; The transactions of the zoological society of London, Volume 6, issue 6, p309-372, May 1868.
So the size is consistent with Sperm whale. The alternatives are fin and Humpback in terms of what commonly gets washed up in the UK. Looking at the work of Van-Beneden and Gervais (1880) the shape of baleen whale vertebra is subtly different so I am favouring sperm whale at the moment.
Here are some known sperm whale vertebra taken at Wainfleet http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2213474
Hope this helps
Dear John, Thank you very much for informative answer and refs. A couple of people who have worked on Fin Whales have said its not that either, and they also think could be a Sperm Whale, hopefully DNA match will confirm when done.