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Curator's Choice

Jo Dunlop - Collection Care Co-ordinator, East Ayrshire Leisure

Whale's Jawbones




These jaw bones belong to a member of the groups of whales known as the Rorquals, which include the Blue Whale, Humpback, Sei Whale, Minke and Fin Whales. In this case the animal was about 80 feet (25 metres) long and was probably a Fin Whale - Balaenoptera physalus   (also Known as a Common Rorqual).


Rorquals feed by gulping in huge mouthfuls of sea-water and filtering out plankton with sheets of whalebone or 'baleen'. The slots where the baleen plates would have fitted into these jaw-bones can be clearly seen on these - the lower jaws.


Rorquals are migratory, and pass by our shores on their long journeys.


This individual was found dead, floating in theNorth Seaoff Hartlepool, Co. Durham in 1901, and was towed ashore. At that time arches of whale jaw-bones were popular inScotland, so they were set up at Lainshaw House in Stewarton, over the front gate. In 1921 they were donated to the Dick Institute and have remained here ever since.

This photograph was given to us courtesy of Stewarton Historical Society.

Stewarton History Society Museum
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