The cranial caper has been cracked.
New Jersey officials have finally identified the mysterious giant skull that was found on a beach Monday after a storm.
The gnarly noggin first came to light Tuesday after the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection posted pictures on Twitter of the bizarre, dinosaur-esque dome, which they had discovered at Island Beach State Park.
They then challenged Twitter to name the animal that sported the prehistoric-looking body part, prompting social-media biologists to label it everything from a “pelican” to a “pterodactyl.”
Officials have since identified the mega melon as the lower jaw and skull of a Minke whale, per a recent tweet. This particular specimen had reportedly been buried on the beach last June, after it became stranded and died, NBC reported.
Indeed, Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey, confirmed that the skull surfaced in a similar location where they had interred the cetacean in sand last summer.
He suspects that the remains were unearthed by the heavy surf and winds that pounded the Eastern Seaboard over the weekend.
“The fact that it washed back up is not unusual,” said the wildlife expert, who estimates that this phenomenon occurs at least once a year.
Exhumation risk notwithstanding, wildlife officials reportedly often bury the whales in the same spot they got beached as transporting these massive beasts elsewhere for burial can prove expensive and time-consuming.
The Minke whale, while one of the smallest baleen species, can still weigh up to 20,000 pounds and measure a whopping 35 feet long, according to Oceana.org.
“When you have an animal that weighs that much, you just don’t pick it up and carry it someplace,” said Schoelkopf.
This isn’t the first time odd-looking flotsam has flabbergasted the social-media masses. This past September, a Wisconsin beachcomber blew the internet’s mind after posting a pic of a brain that had washed ashore.
Living | New York Post