George H. Perkins

Following the original observations by Zadock Thompson in the 1850's, little significant work on the whale skeleton was done until 1908, when Vermont State Geologist George H. Perkins published an article entitled: Fossi l Cetacea of the Pleistocene of the United States and Canada (with special reference to Delphinapterus vermontanus, Thompson). In it, Perkins provided detailed measurements of the bones and teeth, and speculated on the major questions of the w hales age, lineage and evolutionary history.

The following are direct quotes from Perkin's work:

"...the most important whether the Vermont specimen possesses sufficient differences from Delphinapterus leucas to confirm Thompson's name vermontana. That the generic status of the specimen is correctly determined, that is, that it is a true Delphinapterus, there is, I think, no doubt, but whether it is identical with the living species leucas or should be placed as a new species, as Thompson thought, is not so readily decided."

"Anyone who has studied the skeletons of living cetacea (whales) to any extent has soon become convinced of the difficulty, which in many cases amounts to impossibility, of satisfactorily determining the specific identity of two skeletons, or pa rts of them, unless there is opportunity to make direct comparison of the bones. Even then it is not always easy to arrive at certainty. The difficulties arise from the considerable individual variation in the same species and in a greater or less gener al similarity which is found in skeletons of different species or even genera."

"As the number of vertebrae in different species of the cetacea varies considerably, it is uncertain how many there were in our specimen when living. Forty-one were found, but it is certain that these are not all. As set up in the museum, there are fifty vertebrae, of which number nine have been replaced by wooden ones."

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