Free the Ocean Blog

Alabama teen uncovers 34-million-year-old whale skull!

Lindsey Stallworth, a curious teen from Alabama, had a habit of hunting for sharks’ teeth, an interesting pastime on her family farm. But on a seemingly ordinary day, joined by her high school biology teacher and resident paleontologist, Andrew Gentry, she stumbled upon something extraordinary!

The quest began with a mere hint—a few tiny bone fragments peeping out of the soft rock. But as the duo ventured further uphill, they unearthed the almost intact skull of a whale that swam the seas 34 million years ago.

A Passion for the Past

Lindsey’s new biology class at the Alabama School of Math and Science in Mobile introduced her to Mr. Gentry’s passion for paleontology. And when Lindsey showcased her collection of teeth, one specimen particularly intrigued Gentry. This sparked an invitation to her farm, where the duo hoped to find more fossils. But neither could have anticipated the magnitude of their pending discovery.

Thanks to Alabama’s ancient history, awash with shallow seas, you can find marine fossils even miles away from any current beaches.

Unearthing A Mystery

Upon discovery, the pair was baffled. Only a bit of the skull was visible at first. With delicate tools in hand, they carefully chipped away at the rock. Days turned into months, and the full magnitude of their find began to take shape. The fossil belonged to the Basilosauridae family—prehistoric, toothed giants that might just include the largest creatures to have ever existed.

As they delved into the specimen, clues hinted at a groundbreaking fact: this could be an entirely new Basilosaurid species. Excitement built as they realized they were potentially rewriting history!

A Teen's Thrilling Adventure

For Lindsey, the entire experience was nothing short of surreal. And their fossil hunting journey isn’t over yet! Lindsey and Gentry have plans to revisit the site next summer. Their hope? To unveil the rest of this magnificent creature’s skeleton, still hidden beneath the hill.

More FTO Blogs