Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Prehistoric whale skeleton found in Italy

April 4, 2007


— Italian researchers have excavated the skeleton of a 4 million-year-old whale in the Tuscan countryside, a discovery that could help reconstruct the prehistoric environment of the sea that once covered the region, officials said Tuesday.

The 33-foot skeleton, dating to the Pliocene epoch, was found in almost perfect order, with only the jaw bones out of place, said paleontologists with the Museum of Natural History in Florence.

Nearly all of Italy was once under water, and it is not unusual to find cetacean fossils in Tuscany.

But the whale skeleton's discovery, about 6 miles east of the Mediterranean, was extraordinary because it was almost complete, and a wealth of organisms were found around it, officials said.

"The finding is spectacular," said Elisabetta Cioppi, the head of the museum's paleontology department and coordinator of the excavation.

"The variety of the sea organisms associated with the whale - shells, fish and others - is extraordinary. It enables us to make a thorough reconstruction of the environment," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Fish and other sea organisms are believed to have lived off the whale's decomposing body for decades. Cioppi said researchers are cataloging the organisms for lab research.

Also found among the bones were some shark teeth, leading researchers to believe that the whale was attacked just before it died. Cioppi said it was too soon to tell whether the shark killed the whale.

Excavations for the whale skeleton began in February after an amateur researcher came across the bones while digging for fossils last year and alerted the museum. The skeleton was found about 100 yards underground in Orciano Pisano, about 50 miles west of Florence, the museum said.

The warm waters that covered the Tuscan countryside started receding about 1.5 million years ago, said Alessandro Garassino, a professor with Milan's Museum of Natural History.

Now blessed with lavish vegetation and rolling hills, the Tuscan countryside has yielded bones and fragments for centuries. Other whale skeletons have been found, including one under a Tuscan vineyard only weeks ago, according to news reports and officials.

The whale skeleton is expected to be displayed at the Florence museum once it is restored.


Ragingbear 10 years, 1 month ago

It was put there by god to test our faith.

He does that with a lot of things....

Flap Doodle 10 years, 1 month ago

The role of the Bush family in the deaths of prehistoric whales has never been fully explored.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"It was put there by god to test our faith."

Please explain what you mean. You seem to think this somehow disproves the Bible. With regards to the Bible, it would fully be expected to find ocean creature remains where there are no oceans now.

It would need much more explaining for those who don't believe in the Flood to account for how they got there. I mean, "started receding about 1.5 million years ago, "? By what action? Slow moving of plates? Whales were dumb back then and couldn't find deeper waters? The few whales which got trapped happened by the rare chance to turn into fossils? Which were not torn apart by scavengers?

Which is more of a test of "faith"? Doesn't test the Bible student's faith at all. Can't say the same for those who say, "Yet the first leaders have already died, and the world hasn't changed a bit." 2 Peter 3:4 (CEV)

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

The whale is 4 MILLION YEARS OLD!! Yet according to the Bible the earth is only like 6000 years old. How's that work out?

roger_o_thornhill 10 years, 1 month ago

I thought it was funny (Ragingbear, that is). To the other one: I don't think you will cut it as a Christian if you can't laugh at the Bible every now and then. Seriously, what's that crap in the old testament? God couldn't decide what to do. Smite them all. Don't smite them at all. Doesn't matter. Their all doomed. DOOMED! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"The whale is 4 MILLION YEARS OLD!!"

Did they find a expiration tag on it?

4 million years old (or in caps as you prefer), is NOT a fact. A ratio of C14 and C12 is a fact. C14 doesn't last that long, so they must have used other means. Molecule ratios are NOT dates. How did they conclude that date?

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

Just as suspected, no answer to the dilemma of Earth's age.

But I will indulge you and offer an answer to your question. When dating fossills buried under the Earth, C-14 dating is only good for things believed to be less than roughly 12,000 years old (it's half-life is around 5600 years). Instead they use methods like Radiometric dating which are methods that determine the age of rocks, bone, or minerals by using the decay rates of radioactive elements which have much longer half-lifes. For example, Potassium 40 decays to argon 40. Uranium 238 decays to lead 206 (via other elements like radium). Rubidium 87 decays to strontium 87.
The original element (the 'parent') decays more and more to the second element (the 'daughter'), so the older the rock the greater amount of 'daughter' material is produced. Each parent has an assumed half-life figure (in years), a 50% decay figure. For Potassium 40, this is reckoned to be about 1.3 billion years.

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago


a step by step timeline of the Earth's age according to the Bible's scripture.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

It sounds to me that before God created life on this earth, "the earth was". Since the Bible outlines the history of life on it and says little about what happened before, I don't know how one could possibly conjecture an age for it.

Maybe one needs experience in "conjecturing". ;-)

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

The Bible's pretty clear about the 7 day creation of the Earth. Yet you want to say the Earth was created one day and then it sat empty for years and years before "life" was put on it? Read all of Gen. Ch. 1 again.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

Just as suspected, no answer to the dilemma of ratios not being facts.

Is link somehow the official authority on conclusions? While it does ask how old the EARTH is, it showed how old LIFE is. Kind of like showing Potassium 40 decay rates, and then concluding an age of something else.

Maybe you are mixing up age of earth and age of life. In which case, you would be confused with what Potassium 40 concludes.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"Yet you want to say the Earth was created one day "

One day? It wasn't created Day One, if that is what you mean, as it already "was". Mars and the other planets and other solar systems have been setting empty for years.

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

I am not mixing up the two. According to the Bible, God created man on the sixth day correct? And plants and animals a day or two before that? So therefore, the "age of the Earth" is only 6 days older then the "age of man on Earth" and 4 or 5 day before the "age of life" on Earth since God made the Heavens and Earth on day one. Am I wrong in this assumption?

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

P.S. - I just now remembered this all started over a damn whale. Damn you JWorld forums for consuming me!

BDitty 10 years, 1 month ago

75x55, I know most of the time Wikipedia is B.S. but it gives a pretty good history of the origins of the "young earth theory".

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"So therefore, the "age of the Earth" is only 6 days older then the "age of man on Earth" and 4 or 5 day before the "age of life" on Earth since God made the Heavens and Earth on day one."

There goes the re-packaging!

Where does it say he made the earth on day one?

It does say before He started, the earth was.

"Heavens and Earth "? Perhaps you are referring to verse one, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

What is the heaven and the earth? Is it what I think? or what you think? or what someone else thinks? How about what the writer tells us?

Verse 8, "And God called the firmament Heaven."

What is the firmament? Verse 7, "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament". Another version says, expanse or "sky".

Verse 10, "And God called the dry land Earth"

So, if you think verse one is a summary of what He did in 6 days, He made the sky and dry land.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 1 month ago

God created the heavens and earth in 6 days according to man but god is not a man and his days could last for millons of years, who are we to say diffrent we are after all just human.

Tom McCune 10 years, 1 month ago

God said "let there be light" on the first day but he created the Sun, the Moon, and the stars on the fourth day. How could there be light with no Sun, no Moon, and no stars?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

Maybe He was talking about "light" beer? After all that hard creation work, He wanted to be sure to have a cold beverage for when He was done.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

"How could there be light with no Sun, no Moon, and no stars?"

1 John 1:5 (NIV) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

So does that mean that God created Himself on the first day?

Tom McCune 10 years, 1 month ago

"3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day." Genesis 1 (NIV)

If God is light (before he created the Sun, Moon, and stars on the fourth day) does that mean that God ceased to exist during the darkness of night on days one, two, and three?

How could God create day and night on the first day if he didn't create the Sun until the fourth day?

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

Or does it mean He allowed His light to shine on the earth?

Did he set the earth to spinning which allowed the Sun to rule the day and the moon the night?

saraheckman 10 years, 1 month ago

or maybe it is a metaphor to help the people of the book understand the story of their beginning before science could explain it. Every person throughout history wants to know where they came from and the story in Genesis does just that.

Tom McCune 10 years, 1 month ago

saraheckman: I agree. It is a metaphor and a wonderful one. I just enjoy taunting those who claim the Bible is factually inerrant.

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

If some of you are referring to "literal days" found in the first chapter of Genesis, I'm not sure how the writer could be any more specific in indicating a literal day.

Evening, morning - day one.

Does anyone find any other occurence in the Bible where it describes the evening and the morning and gives a number to the day where a literal day is not meant?

Whether the sun was already in existence or whether He set the earth in motion, whether the light of day one came from the sun or from the light of God as reflected from Moses who had to cover his face so it didn't bother the people, is not so clear. But how could one make it any more clearer than saying what the end points of a day is and what its number is?

prioress 10 years, 1 month ago

Ragingbear: It was put there by god to test our faith.

No, no, NO. Not the skygod; SATAN. Have you forgotten your Dana Carvey from SNL....?

conservative 10 years, 1 month ago


Why a human of course.

Did I miss the passage where god created the sphynx?

gr 10 years, 1 month ago

But doesn't list "evening-morning" for each "day" nor number them.

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