California News

Aug 1, 2014 6:35 PM by ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rare whale fossil pulled from California backyard


RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (AP) - A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard with some unusual help - a sheriff's search-and-rescue team.

Paleontologist Howell Thomas of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County says the 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist.

The fossil, lodged in 1,000-pound rock, was hoisted from a ravine by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department search-and-rescue volunteers. Using pulleys and a steel trolley, crews pulled the fossil up a steep backyard slope and into a truck bound for the museum.

The fossil was discovered by 53-year-old Gary Johnson when he was a teen exploring the creek behind his family's home. Johnson called Thomas after a whale fossil was recovered in January at a nearby school.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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