Thursday, 27 February 2014

Toxic algae may have killed 9-million-year-old whales found under a road




Excavators working on a Chilean stretch of the Pan-American highway made a surprising discovery in 2010: a set of large fossilized mammal bones. A team of paleontologists was able to identify the fossils as the remains of more than 40 baleen whales, alongside a host of smaller animals, found to have died between 6 and 9 million years ago.
The paleontologists were able to identify the species of whale found in the mass grave — they included a sperm whale species and a "walrus-like" whale, both of which are extinct — but until recently, did not know what caused them to die and make their way into a mass grave. Now a team of Smithsonian scientists says it has found the culprit: algae.
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