Beach blob identified!

Remember that weird blob of marine flesh that washed up on the shores of Chile a few weeks back? I blogged about it, and noted that oceanographers were totally puzzled as to what it was — and theorized that it might even be a new species.

Nope. Turns out it was the rotting carcass of a sperm whale. Check out the CNN story, with a gross-a-licious description of the decomposition process:

When a sperm whale dies at sea, it rots until it becomes a “skeleton suspended in a semi-liquid mass within a bag of skin and blubber,” the scientists said. Eventually, the skin tears and the bones sink while the skin and blubber float.

“This washes up and has the appearance of an octopus because the spermaceti organ keeps its bulky shape,” they added.


(Thanks to Jeff MacIntyre for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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