Following 30 years of disappearance, a prehistoric whale fossil has been found in a museum archives and it will shed light on the mysterious uplift of east Africa. The fossil was found in northern Kenya, 460 miles inland and 0.398 miles above sea level in 1964. It is the oldest whale fossil ever found, but it disappeared in 1975 and was not found until 2011.
Lead author of the study Henry Wichura said that the fossil went missing somewhere in the archives of Harvard University. Given it was a large item, the fossil was stored alongside other big specimens but its code could not be found. The second contributor to the study Louis Jacobs asked around for the fossil for decades, but was always unsuccessful. However, in 2011, he found out that Harvard has a large storage full of big fossils. Only 15 minutes have passed between him talking to the curator and receiving a phone call that the bones were found.
The analysis of the whale will finally shed light on the much debated uplift of East Africa. According to one theory, the whale was probably traveling from the Indian Ocean inland in a river, but it was stranded in a very vegetated and humid environment.
When it comes to determining the date of the East Africa uplift, scientists are divided because evidence disappeared with the onset of rift valley, which is a geological aspect that took place following the uplift. It is peculiar to find a whale at the above mentioned elevation and scientists are trying to figure out which processes had an influence on this event.
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