Friday, 3 May 2013

Skeleton of Mystery Animal Found In Iceberg.....

An animal skeleton dangling from an iceberg that drifted by Newfoundland's northeast coast is proving a mystery for scientists.

I've seen funny things come out of ice in the past … but we've never seen a skeleton hanging halfway out of an iceberg," Garry Stenson, a St. John's-based scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Photographs taken in May in Bonavista Bay show a skeleton partly embedded in a small iceberg and dangling close to the water.

Stenson, who received photographs via e-mail, has forwarded them to colleagues internationally with an appeal for help.

Stenson said it appears likely the skeleton came from a marine mammal, but determining what it was and, more interestingly, how it got in the middle of an iceberg may remain a mystery.

"The skeleton itself doesn't appear to be a [whale]," Stenson told CBC News Monday. "It doesn't have the same bone structure that you would have with a whale."

Then, Stenson said, the question is determining what type of ice was observed off communities like Brookfield. The berg has since drifted away and substantially melted.

"If it's an iceberg that cast off a glacier in Greenland, then the question becomes: How did [the mammal] get into it?" said Stenson, adding it would be "highly unlikely" for an animal to have become trapped that way.

"If, on the other hand, this is multi-year ice, then it could be a walrus or seal that was pushed up and rafted and is now starting to come out again," he said.

Stenson noted that some of the photographs showed what could be connective tissue on the skeleton. In that case, he said, the animal may have perished within a matter of years, although he said he "couldn't hazard to guess" how long.

Dr. Peter Whitridge, an associate professor of anthropology, said he could only speculate but suggested that a seal may have been dragged up on ice by a polar bear.

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