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      Rare whale fossil pulled from California backyard

      RANCHO PALOS VERDES, California (AP) -- A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard with some unusual help -- a sheriff's search-and-rescue team.Paleontologist Howell Thomas of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County says the 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen fossils known to exist. Baleen is a filter made of soft tissue used to sift out prey, like krill, from seawater.The fossil, lodged in a 1,000-pound rock, was hoisted from a ravine. Using pulleys and a steel trolley, crews pulled the fossil up a steep backyard slope and into a truck bound for the museum.The fossil was discovered by 53-year-old Gary Johnson when he was a teen exploring the creek behind his family's home. Johnson called Thomas after a whale fossil was recovered in January at a nearby school.By MATT HAMILTONAssociated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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