Storeroom Stories: Xenorophid Whale

The Charleston Museum holds the largest collection of Oligocene cetaceans, or whales, in the world. The Oligocene epoch is a geologic time period spanning from roughly 23 million years ago (mya) to 34 mya, and it represents a very important time period for cetacean evolution. Many species of Oligocene cetaceans have been described from South Carolina, with several discovered in and around Charleston.

The genus Xenorophus, which is within the cetacean family Xenorophidae, was originally described by R. Kellogg in 1923. Xenorophids were predatory whales that most likely fed on fish and perhaps small sea birds. Xenorophids are an extinct group and have only been found in the Ashley and Chandler Bridge formations of South Carolina. This specimen, found in Charleston County, is potentially a new species of xenorophid.

About Storeroom Stories

Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is, in fact, America’s first. Needless to say, over the centuries the Museum has acquired many incredible artifacts. A myriad of items exemplifying the rich history of South Carolina, the Lowcountry, and Charleston itself are on display permanently. However, one must also wonder about the artifacts not typically displayed in our formal galleries. Furthermore, with such a magnificent, vast collection as well as an intelligent and passionate curatorial staff, The Charleston Museum has incredible resources. We would like to use these resources to share more with the public. Therefore, the Museum will now be offering a special monthly exhibit, titled Storeroom Stories, which highlights a specific and unique artifact, personally hand-picked by a curator to share with the public.

A “story” related to each item will be included along with its description, providing the viewer a unique and intimate perspective on each individual piece. This an incredible opportunity for the public to take a look into our collections as well as see some of the items that our curators are most excited about sharing with you! We invite you to keep up with Storeroom Stories via our website, blog, Facebook, or twitter account. Please come and take a peek into our storeroom, view some of the pieces our curators our most passionate about, and learn the story behind these incredibly historic items!