Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whale Caught in Alaska Had Survived a Shooting in the Late 1800s

A bowhead whale killed by hunters off Barrow, Alaska, last month had survived over a century with an antique weapon lodged in its neck:
The bomb lance fragment, [on the far left in the photo,] lodged a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade, was likely manufactured in New Bedford, on the southeast coast of Massachusetts, a major whaling center at that time, Bockstoce said.

It was probably shot at the whale from a heavy shoulder gun around 1890. The small metal cylinder was filled with explosives fitted with a time-delay fuse so it would explode seconds after it was shot into the whale. The bomb lance was meant to kill the whale immediately and prevent it from escaping.

. . . .

The whale harkens back to far different era. If 130 years old, it would have been born in 1877, the year Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in as president, when federal Reconstruction troops withdrew from the South and when Thomas Edison unveiled his newest invention, the phonograph.
Link (via BoingBoing). Almost as cool as finding an atlatl lodged in Darwin's tortoise.

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