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Mysterious Animal Skull Identified After Washing Up On New Jersey Beach

It's not a dinosaur, but a minke whale, a protected species in the U.S.

Part of a massive animal skull washed up on a New Jersey beach on Memorial Day 2021 after a storm. Authorities have finally solved the mystery as to what it is.

On Tuesday, the Island Beach State Park, in Berkeley Township, New Jersey, posted photos on Facebook of a massive skull with a beak shape some found reminiscent of a long-extinct dinosaur, the Pterodactyl.

However, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Island Beach State Park confirmed it was the ventral, or lower, jaw and skull of a minke whale.

The park sits on a narrow barrier island that stretches for 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Barnegat Bay. Atlantic City lies about 20 miles directly to the south, about 45 miles by car.

“You never know what you are going to find on the beach after a storm!” The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said in a post with the photos over Twitter.

The massive skull that washed up at the Island Beach State Park in New Jersey stands up to the hip of the officer holding it. (Facebook/Island Beach State Park)

A storm had moved up the Eastern Seaboard on Sunday, May 30, 2021, creating damp and dreary conditions for much of the region ahead of the holiday weekend.

“The day before Memorial Day was wet and chilly with rain much of the day,” Carl Erickson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, said. “The storm moved away by the night of May 30, and Memorial Day itself turned out nice with sunshine and warmer temperatures.”

The state park is located on the central New Jersey coast, about a one-hour drive north of Atlantic City.

After asking for guesses on what creature the mysterious parting gift from the storm could be, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Island Beach State Park confirmed that it was remnants of a minke whale.

A shot of a young minke whale swimming in the Gowanus Bay on April 18, 2007, near Brooklyn, New York. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Minke whales are a part of the rorquals, a family that includes both humpback whales and the blue whale. They are also considered the second-smallest baleen whale, behind the pygmy right whales. Adults can typically reach up to 23 to 26 feet in length and weigh around 4 to 5 tons.

The species is one of the most abundant rorquals in the world, with a stable population, compared to other species of large whales. Minke whales in the U.S. are not endangered, but they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. One reasons is commercial whaling practices may have reduced minke whale populations in the western North Pacific and in the northeastern North Atlantic.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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