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For release: July 18, 1996

Michael Finneran
(804) 864-6121/23

RELEASE NO. 96-094

JULY 18 NEWS CONFERENCE:

3.5-MILLION-YEAR-OLD WHALE BONES SURFACE AT NASA LANGLEY

Thanks to the sharp eyes of two surveyors, the fossil remains of a 3.5-million-year-old whale have been discovered at NASA Langley Research Center.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, July 18, the findings will be displayed and discussed in an informal news conference at the site where they were unearthed.

The bones of the 30-foot juvenile baleen whale were found July 15 by two surveyors working at a piping trench under construction. The findings include a skull, tympanic bulla (part of the ear bones of a whale), vertebrae and rib fragments.

NASA Langley is loaning the remains to the College of William and Mary for study, said John Mouring, Langley's facility master planner and preservation officer.

The discovery opens a window into the history of the NASA Langley site about 3.5 million years ago, when the Atlantic shoreline was probably 30 to 40 miles west of its present location, said Dr. Gerald (Jerre) Johnson of William and Mary's geology department.

"The research opportunity will provide insight into the development of whales through geologic time," Johnson said.

Johnson, Mouring, and the surveyors who discovered the whale bones will be at the news conference. Opportunities will be available for interviews and for photographing and videotaping the whale remains.

Media will be waved through the NASA Langley front gate on Commander Shepard Boulevard. To get to the news conference site, follow Langley Boulevard, turn right on Doolittle Road, and turn right on East Bush Road. The site will be visible just off the road at the sharp left-hand curve on East Bush.

 

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