The San Diego Zoo has about 4,000 animals â?? all carefully catalogued.
For at least a few more days, it will have one more that officials didn’t even know existed until Thursday, when an excavating machine digging a hole for a storm-water runoff tank made a distinctive scraping sound.
Gino Calvano, a paleontologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum, acting as a fossil monitor on the project, heard the sound and came running. He looked at the machine operator.
“I just kind of made eye contact with him,” Calvano said. “He knew right away that I had heard something big.”
Calvano realized that the machine’s metal scoop had scraped a large fossilized skeleton. A quick inspection determined the skeleton was that of a whale from about 3 million years ago.