Team Digs Up London 'Moby Dick'

56-foot giant whale died 200 years ago
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2010 4:56 AM CDT
Team Digs Up London 'Moby Dick'
A whale blows along the California coast near Palos Verdes, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Archaeologists in London have discovered the bones of a whale the size of Moby Dick that met its end on the River Thames some 200 years ago. The 56-foot whale, which was as old as 100 when it died, was found buried beneath six feet of mud on the bank of the Thames. After the whale beached itself or was harpooned, whalers butchered it for its valuable oils and baleen, leaving its bones behind.

The massive creature, a North Atlantic right whale, died at the heyday of the Atlantic whaling industry, when whale oil was used to light house and street lamps, and baleen was used in umbrellas, corsets and horse saddles. This whale alone would have yielded more than 11,000 liters of whale oil. Zoologists tell the Independent that the new discovery will help them determine how commercial whaling has impacted whale evolution.

(Read more Moby Dick stories.)

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