Algal blooms created ancient whale graveyard

By Sarah Zielinski, 12:07 PM February 28, 2014

In 2010 deep in the barren Atacama Desert of northern Chile, road builders came across a curious site during a project to expand the Pan-American Highway: Dozens of fossil skeletons of whales and other marine mammals lay buried in the rock. Before the road workers paved over the site, researchers managed to excavate some of the fossils, and Smithsonian paleontologist Nicholas Pyenson and a team of imaging experts created 3-D scans of many of them.

Those scans, which preserved the orientation o...

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