The discovery was made in October by Pennsylvania native Cody Goddard, who was looking for fossils and shark teeth, a popular activity in the area, the Calvert Marine Museum said in a statement.

“We felt like we had won the World Cup of Paleontology!” said Stephen Godfrey, head of paleontology at the museum.

"We don't yet know what species of Miocene whale this is," he added.

"We won't know until it's 'ready for review.'

According to the museum, it took two months to extract and move the skull, which is embedded in a block of sediment.

The whole thing weighs about 295 kilos.

Members of the Calvert Marine Museum examine a 12 million year old fossil whale skull © Cody Goddard / AFP

It is the most complete fossil whale skull to be found in the Calvert Cliffs area, according to the museum, and it was named "Cody" after its discoverer.

Mr Godfrey said the skull had been transferred to the museum's fossil lab and that special tools would be used to extricate it from the sediment, a process that will take several months.

© 2023 AFP