The 6.4 million year old cetacean fossil from Alcalá de Guadaíra is back on display at the City Museum.

As an attraction of the Museum in its educational and informative work of local heritage, it is recovered to complement the section of the landscaping of the nineteenth century from the perspective of researchers and scholars of geology.

The City Council of Alcalá de Guadaíra recovers for visits to the City Museum from today, Monday March 11, the fossil of a cetacean, more than 6.4 million years old, found in the area of La Aceña, which presided over the exhibition ‘Alcalá before Man’ and had become a star element of the history of Alcalá, especially for its attraction among schoolchildren.

This was announced by the delegate of Heritage and Museums, Christopher Rivas, accompanied by the discoverer and owner of the fossil group, Joaquín Cárdenas Carretero, highlighting the importance of these remains for the dissemination of local heritage. This fossil has become in the last decade part of the local identity and, in fact, it was the schoolchildren of the city who ‘baptized’ it as ‘Perla’ since its first exhibition in 2012, although it not only attracted the interest of visitors, but also of international researchers, even from Japan.

The City Hall has an extensive paleontology collection that, for space reasons, cannot be permanently displayed. That is why, as Rivas explained, “we have taken the opportunity to resume its exhibition connecting it with the panorama of attraction of travelers, painters, scholars and scientists that Alcalá hosted in the nineteenth century. Although the ground floor of the Museum currently hosts the exhibition ‘Time of landscapes. Painters of the School of Alcalá de Guadaíra, 1850- 1950’, at that time also Alcalá obtained the interest of another type of professionals who observed the landscapes from the geological perspectives, the nature of the soils and rocks, the systems of the fauna and flora, questions on which the explanatory panels and the whale itself are very illustrative, and complement another aspect of that time of the XIX century of meticulous studies that gave rise to maps, dictionaries and geological descriptions of Alcalá”.

About the fossil

Cárdenas Carretero recalled that it is a fossil of a cetacean of the Balaenopteridae family from the Upper Messinian (more than 6.4 million years old). The remains come from a young specimen of 5.5 meters, which at its maximum development could have reached 8 or 9 meters in length. Pieces of lumbar and caudal vertebrae, cervical vertebrae, intervertebral discs and spinal process are preserved. From the upper extremity there are also pieces that correspond to the scapula, humerus and phalanges of the cetacean, as well as pieces of the ribs of this whale, in addition to other bone fragments.

It was discovered in the 1970s by Cárdenas Carretero himself in the area of La Aceña and in 2010 it was ceded to the City Council for its study, conservation, protection and dissemination. Joaquín Cárdenas, Ildefonso Bajo Campos and Manuel Vicente Maestre Galindo also worked with Joaquín Cárdenas in the cleaning, assembly and preparation for the diffusion coordinated by the Museum.

These remains are part of the municipal collection that was exhibited in the Paleontology room of the Museum, retracing the past of Alcalá between 7 and 4 million years ago, when there was no dry land (between the Upper Miocene and Pleistocene), and these submerged lands were part of the Norbetic Strait between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Hence, fossils of seashells and even vertebrate animals, such as shark teeth, some of which are kept next to the whale on display, can often be observed in the sediments, especially in the mud.

Visits are free and open to individuals or groups, although the Museum offers the possibility of guided group visits by prior arrangement.