The fossil skeleton from the Pliocene epoch of the fin whale, which was named "Brunella", is considered by experts one of the most significant paleontological findings of recent decades.
The sediment in which the fossil is encased contains traces of an ecosystem that no longer exists.
The scientific potential of the entire specimen is very considerable, and Fondazione Banfi intends to promote multidisciplinary comprehensive research.
"[…] during the last period of the Tertiary period" there was "[...] a vast basin, which from the South communicated with the Mediterranean and extended widely towards the South-East in the territory of Rome; while towards the North it advanced in the form of a gulf towards Arezzo and directly received the waters of the Arno river which, only at the end of that period and due to the lifting of the Pliocene terrain, changed direction and bent towards the West and North-West, entering into the valley of Florence.
Towards the North-West, this basin occupied a large part of the territory of Siena, and this way it connected with another vast Pliocene basin that also advanced towards Siena, following the current valley of the Elsa river.
Numerous islands rose at the delta and in the middle of that basin, and among these it is interesting to mention the mountains of Cetona that constitute three islands aligned from North to South situated almost in the center of the basin and the mountain of Montalcino that rose at the delta of a channel due to which the basin itself communicated with the Mediterranean also from the South-West through a wide gulf now occupied by the Grosseto plain."
Giovanni Capellini (1873). Of the Etruscan Whale. Memories of the Royal Academy of Sciences at the Institute of Bologna, Series III, Volume III, page 5