75 Fossilised Whales Discovered In Chilean Desert (Slideshow)

Whale Graveyard

Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 22/11/11 09:54 Updated: 22/11/11 10:13

Archaeologists were baffled when they discovered 75 fossilised whales in a desert in Chile.

Pictures of the 2010 find, recently released to the Associated Press, show the dramatic scale of the animals discovered embedded in the rock.

Believed to be more than 2m to 7m years old, the fossilised skeletons were discovered just yards apart in the Atacama desert near Copiapo, Chile.

Among the finds was a dolphin-like animal with tusks similar to a walrus.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution are studying how the whales came to be discovered in one of the driest areas on Earth. Some suppose that the area was once a lagoon, and the whales died when it dried up. Others suggest the whales may have intentionally beached themselves. Scientists are still researching the conundrum.

The bones were discovered during road-construction in June 2010, and while other groups of prehistoric whales have been found in South America experts say this site is among the largest and best preserved. Hundreds more whales could be lying in wait to be discovered, they claim.

Take a look at the amazing pictures below.

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In this Aug. 24, 2010 photo released by Chile's Paleontological Museum of Caldera, a prehistoric whale fossil lies embedded in the Atacama desert near Copiapo, Chile. More than 2 million years ago, scores of whales congregating off the Pacific Coast of South America mysteriously met their end. Maybe they became disoriented and beached themselves. Maybe they were trapped in a lagoon by a landslide or a ferocious storm. Maybe they died there over a period of a few millennia. But somehow, they ended up right next to one another, many just several yards (meters) apart, entombed over the ages as the shallow sea floor was driven upward by geologic forces and transformed into the driest place on the planet. Today, the whales have emerged again atop a desert hill more than half a mile (a kilometer) from the surf, where researchers have begun to unearth one of the world's best-preserved graveyards of prehistoric whales. (AP Photo/Museo Paleontologico de Caldera)