Feb.27, 2014

It is one of the largest fossil site discovered in recent years - a mysterious whale graveyard was found in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.

The site was first discovered during an expansion project of the Pan-American Highway in 2010. The following year, Smithsonian and Chilean scientists examined the fossils, and wanted to figure out what happened 6–9 million years ago.

Mass strandings of whales have puzzled people since Aristotle. And now scientists think they can explain why so many of the mammals died in the same spot.

From their research, the scientists conclude that toxins generated by harmful algal blooms most likely poisoned the whales near Cerro Ballena in the late Miocene (5-11 million years ago) through ingestion of contaminated prey or inhalation, causing relatively rapid death at sea. The dead and dying mammals were then washed into an estuary and on to flat sands where they became buried over time.

Their finding was published in a Royal Society journal.

Because the site was soon to be covered by the Pan-American Highway, Smithsonian paleontologists along with its 3D Digitization Program Office spent a week 3D scanning the entire dig site, capturing essential data about the arrangement and condition of the skeletons.

Although all the fossils found from 2010 to 2013 have been moved to museums in the Chilean cities of Caldera and Santiago, the Smithsonian has put much of its digital data, including 3D scans and maps, online allowing anyone to download or interact with 3D models of the fossil whale skeletons. The 3D model is also being 3D printed so researchers could continue their investigation of the site.

Posted in 3D Scanning


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Zach wrote at 6/11/2014 3:17:49 PM:

when are people going to realize a global flood is to blame for things like this all over the world.

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