A giant skull with something akin to tweezers for a mouth washed ashore in New Jersey, igniting a social media debate over what it might be — and more importantly — what killed it.
The skull — picked clean of all flesh — was found May 31 at Island Beach State Park, according to a Facebook post from park officials. The 10-mile-long park is on one of New Jersey’s barrier islands, about 75 miles east of Philadelphia.
“You never know what you are going to find on the beach after a storm. Our State Park Police found this skull yesterday,” the park wrote on Facebook.
Park staff did not give dimensions of the skull, but a photo shows it stood waist-high alongside an officer and was a couple of feet wide.
The invitation for people to guess what it might be has gotten 2,700 reactions, 2,000 comments and 6,500 shares in the past day.
Many of the commenters guessed it was some kind of whale, which are often picked apart by hungry sharks and other marine life while drifting dead in the ocean.
Some wondered if it was a giant tooth, rather than a skull. A few pointed out it also resembled the skull of a pterodactyl, the prehistoric flying reptile.
The idea it was floating unseen among Memorial Day vacationers horrified many people on social media.
“Never mind it floating by, I’d be more worried about what killed an animal that size. Scary,” one woman wrote on Facebook.
So what is it?
On Wednesday, the park updated its Facebook post to report it was confirmed to be the lower “jaw and skull of a minke whale.”
As for how it died, that remains unresolved.