A Squalodontid Success

On a beach in Piña, Panama the tide is rolling out. Faint outlines of skeletal remains rise above the sand. Smithsonian scientists Nicholas Pyenson and Aaron O'Dea along with a team of students descend upon the beach. Their mission: to excavate the remains of a whale from the extinct group Squalodontidae, commonly known as "shark-toothed dolphins."

Before they remove the fossil, they must encase it in a plaster jacket. It's a process that can take up to two days. But they are racing the tide and have just four hours to remove the fossil. Will they make it?

Watch a time-lapse video of the dig and read Dr. Pyenson's accounts of the Panama expedition on the Ocean Portal Paleobiology Blog.