Upper: the manganese-encrusted ear bone of a whale amongst a small whale skull before it is sampled by the ROV. The distance between the two lasers is 15 centimeters. Lower: that same ear bone, photographed in the lab. The ear bones of whales can be used to identify species, even for extinct specimens. There is a possibility that ancient DNA still exists within the bone tissue, preserved in the cold stable conditions of the abyssal plain, and protected by the manganese crust.