Moby Dick Chapter 102 - 104
Chapter 102 - 104
A Bower in the Arsacides/Measurement of the Whale's Skeleton/The Fossil Whale
Ishmael wishes to set down a description of a whale's skeleton. He was able to study one from a baby Sperm Whale that was killed on a whaling expedition, and also from the remains of a full grown whale kept as a sort of church by a tribe in the Arsacides, whose ruler he befriended. He has the measurements tattooed onto his arm.
A Sperm Whale of the largest size is about eight-five to ninety feet in length, and weighs at least ninety tons. The whale loses about a fifth of its length in death, leaving its skeleton about seventy-two feet in length. The skull and the jaw comprise twenty feet, leaving fifty of plain backbone; attached to the backbone, for a little less than a third of its length, are the ribs. There are ten ribs on each side. The spine has forty or so vertebrae in it.
Fossil remains of the whale have been found in a wide variety of places, from the base of the Alps to the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, indicating that the whale has been on earth for a long, long time.