A fossil vertebra that a Smithsonian researcher's mother found while prospecting in the Gatun Formation. It's not just any vertebra, it belongs to a fossil sea cow! According to Jorge Valez-Juarbe, a graduate student at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and expert on fossil sea cows and manatees, it would be among the youngest records of this group from Central America. Jorge holds the exciting museum find in his hands, amidst geologic maps of Panama.
Jorge and Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, are currently on an expedition to excavate a whale fossil in Panama. Tag along with the researchers and watch the excavation unfold on the Ocean Portal Paleobiology Blog.