Shaun Wilson of the University of Otago (NZ) visited Old Tom in March as part of his Australia- wide travels examining skeletal material of orcas. His master’s degree is particularly focused on the individual characteristics of skulls and how these differ between males versus females, adults and juveniles and the differences between the various types of killer whales found around the world.
As well as Australia, Shaun has examined skeletal material held in private and public collections across New Zealand and throughout America, with Old Tom being the 94 th skull to be examined. With such limited knowledge available on orca, particularly in Australia, we wish him success with his project and look forward to seeing what Old Tom’s ‘noggin’ might reveal.
It perhaps makes Shaun an orca craniometrist – he’s certainly not into the popular 19th century study, phrenology! Check out the information about one of Old Tom’s teeth at the front of the case. It explains how we approximated his age.