12-million-year-old whale fossil skull found in Maryland

A whale skull fossil estimated to be some 12 million years old has been found on a beach in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, according to a local museum.

The discovery was made in October by a Pennsylvania man, Cody Goddard, who was searching for fossils and shark's teeth, the Calvert Marine Museum said in a statement.

"It felt like we had won the World Cup of Paleontology!" said Stephen Godfrey, curator of paleontology at the museum in the eastern US state.

"We don't yet know what species of Miocene baleen whale this is," he said. "That we will only know once it has been prepared."

The museum said that it took two months to extract and move the skull, which was encased in a hardened block of sediment and weighs around 650 pounds (295 kilograms).

It is the most complete fossil whale skull ever recovered in the Calvert Cliffs area, according to the museum, and has been christened "Cody" for its finder.

Godfrey said the skull has been moved to the museum's Fossil Preparation Lab and specialized tools will be used to remove the sediment that encases most of it, a process that will take many months.

cl/caw