Paleontologist in Peru have unearthed a massive whale graveyard that they believe is two million to seven million years old.
At this time scientists are still not sure how the giant mammals ended up in their current location on a desert hill. It’s believed by some researchers that an earthquake may have sealed off dozens of whales in the area or that a lagoon may have at one time existed but later dried up. Another theory is that the whales were washed onto shore by a mammoth wave.
The whales were discovered in the middle of a highway that is currently under construction.
Through their studies scientists say they will be able to gain a vastly better understanding of ancient sea life, for example they have found a dolphin carcass in the area that also features two “walrus-like” husks.
According to paleontologists who are already working at the dig site:
“The fossils are exceptionally well preserved and quite complete—a rare combination in paleontology and one that will likely shed light on many facets of the … ecology and evolution of these extinct species.”
The giant specimens were found in the Atacama desert near Copiapo, Chile.
Construction on the highway will avoid the dig area until all fossils have been retrieved for further research.
[Image via: Museo Paleontologico de Caldera]