Mysterious Giant Skull With Beak Discovered on New Jersey Beach

A giant skull discovered on a New Jersey beach Monday morning, prompting confusion among police and local residents, has been identified as belonging to a minke whale.

The skull, including a lower jaw, was discovered on Monday morning on Island Beach State Park in New Jersey, according to a Facebook post from the area's police department.

Although the department did not provide the measurements of the find, it posted two images of the skull and lower jaw alongside one of its officers, with the remains more than half the size of the man pictured.

In a post on Monday, the police department, alongside the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, asked for help from the public to identify the skull, writing: "You never know what you are going to find on the beach after a storm!

"Our State Park Police found this skull at Island Beach State Park on Monday. As soon as we identify it, we'll let you know. For now, do you have any guesses?"

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Several Twitter and Facebook users responded jokingly to the post, with answers ranging from a "pterodactyl skull" to "Jimmy Hoffa" and even a "Godzilla tooth," while many suggested that the discovery was part of a whale.

In a follow-up post on Wednesday, the agency confirmed that the discovery was of the "ventral (lower) jaw and skull of a Minke whale."

Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, told NBC 10 it is likely that the skull came from a minke whale that was buried on the beach in June 2020, as it was found in a similar location to where one was left last summer.

"The fact that it washed back up is not unusual," Schoelkopf said. "This is a common thing to happen when we bury animals on the beach."

He said that whales are uncovered on the beach on a yearly basis, as nearly 100 of the animals have been buried across New Jersey after washing up onshore.

"When you have an animal that weighs that much, you just don't pick it up and carry it someplace," Schoelkopf explained.

Minke whales, which grow to around 8.5 meters (27 feet) long on average and weigh between 5.5 and 11 tons, tend to live between 40 to 50 years and generally eat krill and small schooling fish, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Newsweek has contacted Island Beach State Park and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for comment.

Minke Whale skull on New Jersey Beach
A whale skull in a picture by the Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. A giant skull of a minke whale discovered on a New Jersey beach on Monday morning Island Beach State Park