Ear bones, especially the periotic bone, of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) have complex anatomy and each cetacean family has a different set of ear bone structures unique to them. This means that palaeontologists can often identify the group of cetaceans that a fossil ear bone belonged to, even if it is only a fragment.

This 5-million-year-old periotic bone, found by Barbara Vegh at Black Rock, is the most complete beaked whale (family Ziphiidae) ear bone found in Australia. It may have belonged to a close relative of a living species of beaked whale.

Specimen Details