The massive corpse of an initially unidentified sea creature washed up on the shore of Indonesia’s Seram Island, prompting worldwide speculation as to what the mysterious creature was. Initially called a giant squid by the Jakarta Globe, the 15-meter (50-foot) carcass has since started to fill the area with a rotting smell, prompting the local villagers to ask the government for assistance in removing the mess.
Experts in marine life quickly picked up on the mystery, and pointed out that the creature’s spine was readily visible — since squid are invertebrates and have no spine, that ruled out the giant squid theory. Then, cetologists quickly recognized the protruding skull and jaw as that of a baleen whale.
"Giant squid are invertebrates and there are clearly bones visible (jaw, skull, vertebrate) so I am very comfortable saying it’s some type of rorqual whale," explains Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation‘s executive director. "Certain species of baleen whales (rorquals) have ‘ventral grooves’ which run from their chin to their belly button. It is stretchy tissue that expands when they feed."
Yes, even whales have belly-buttons.