A whale skeleton believed to be up to 5,000 years old has been discovered and has been preserved almost perfectly by researchers in Thailand.

The skeleton, believed to be a pride whale, was found in Samut Sakhon, west of Bangkok. Researchers have excavated 80% of the remains and have so far identified 19 complete vertebrae, five ribs, scapula and fins. The skeleton is 12 meters (39 feet) long, and its skull is three meters.

The bones will be dated with carbon to verify their age, but they are believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old.

Pride whales They are still found in the waters of Thailand, including the Gulf of Thailand, where they are considered a protected species. Whales – which prefer waters above 16 ° C (61 ° F), and feed on education fish such as anchovies – face threats from fishing gear as well as tourism.

The discovery will help deepen researchers’ understanding of the evolution of species, as well as other marine life. Besides the skeleton, researchers have found preserved items including shark teeth and their shells.

Farout Silpa Archa, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said the remains, which were found about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from land, would also provide important clues to help scientists track how sea levels have changed over thousands of years.

Marcus Chua, of the National University of Singapore, told the BBC that the partially fossilized bone was a “rare find” and that the finding “provides a window into the past.” The skeleton was expected to provide information about “ancient biological and geological conditions at the time, including estimation of sea level, sediment types, and contemporary biological communities”.

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There were only a few sub-fossils of whales in Asia, Chua said, and finding one in such a good condition was particularly unusual.

The exact age of the skeleton is expected to be confirmed in December.