Monday, November 21, 2011
Whale Fossils in the Desert = Mystery
Cetacean cemetary in Chile's Atacama Desert "I came here for the waters. For my health." "We're in a desert!" "I was misinformed." (OK, I used that reference last year for a fossil penguin found in a desert and no one laughed. So somebody laugh, please.) Dozens of whale skeletons have turned up in one tiny spot in Chile's Atacama Desert. Most are baleen whales, with a sperm whale mixed in along with a specimen of the bizarre "walrus dolphin," previously knwn only from Peru. Two to seven million years old, the remains (still being excavated) provoke an obvious question - what happened? The presence of other species would seem to rule out a mass stranding. Paleontologists never lack for mysteries.