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Chile's stunning fossil whale graveyard explained

Whales graveyard Chile 5 million years ago

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26 February 2014

 

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It is one of the most astonishing fossil discoveries of recent years - a graveyard of whales found beside the Pan-American Highway in Chile.
And now scientists think they can explain how so many of the animals came to be preserved in one location more than five million years ago.
It was the result of not one but four separate mass strandings, they report in a Royal Society journal.
The evidence strongly suggests the whales all ingested toxic algae.
The dead and dying mammals were then washed into an estuary and on to flat sands where they became buried over time.
It was well known that this area in Chile's Atacama Desert preserved whale fossils.
Their bones could be seen sticking out of rock faces, and the spot acquired the name Cerro Ballena ("whale hill") as a result.
But it was only when a cutting was made to widen the Pan-American Highway that US and Chilean researchers got an opportunity to fully study the fossil beds.
They were given just two weeks to complete their field work before the heavy plant returned to complete construction of the new road.

 

 
 
 
Cool, another astonishing find.

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