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Earth Science

Find Along Chilean Highway Suggests Ancient Mass Stranding of Whales 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-at-the-bones dept.
sciencehabit writes "In 2010, workers widening a remote stretch of highway near the northwestern coast of Chile uncovered a trove of fossils, including the skeletons of at least 30 large baleen whales. The fossils—which may be up to 9 million years old—are the first definitive examples of ancient mass strandings of whales, according to a new study. The work also fingers a possible culprit."
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Find Along Chilean Highway Suggests Ancient Mass Stranding of Whales

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  • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:08PM (#46353931)
    "The work also fingers a possible culprit"

    Anthropomorphic Global Warming?

    (not a troll, just a funny, vote me down if you will)
    • Re:Let me guess... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EvilSS (557649) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:05AM (#46354241)

      "The work also fingers a possible culprit" Anthropomorphic Global Warming? (not a troll, just a funny, vote me down if you will)

      Don't be stupid. It was obviously caused by US Navy sonar. Yes, our sonar is THAT powerful.

      • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:24AM (#46354325)

        "The work also fingers a possible culprit" Anthropomorphic Global Warming? (not a troll, just a funny, vote me down if you will)

        Don't be stupid. It was obviously caused by US Navy sonar. Yes, our sonar is THAT powerful.

        Actually, that highway is a toll road and they didn't have exact change. If you ever saw a 20 meter tractor trailer try to make a U-turn, just imaging what it must have been like trying to get 30, 30 meter whales to turn around. It's no wonder they didn't make it.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          just imaging what it must have been like trying to get 30, 30 meter whales to turn around

          The deaths occurred over a period of thousands, probably 10 thousand plus, of years. HArdly a whale jam.

          And the sizes were more like 10m, not 30m.

          But for someone who's not RTFA, you're doing well. Just imagine how much you'd know if you'd actually RTFP. It is Open Access, after all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They probably are all roadkill. They are all laying next to the road! Pretty obvious.

    • No, the US Navy of course. This discovery pushes the first use of sonar back several million years.

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        No, the US Navy of course. This discovery pushes the first use of sonar back several million years.

        Not to mention the invention of the United States.

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          Not to mention the invention of the United States.

          Not ot mention the human species.

          Actually, that far back, you're pre-dating all of the likely common ancestors of the anthropoid apes, with the possible exception of the common ancestor of the Pongoidae and the rest of the anthropoid apes.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Half-pint HAL (718102)

          No, the US Navy of course. This discovery pushes the first use of sonar back several million years.

          Not to mention the invention of the United States.

          Didn't you know that the United States has existed since the dawn of time, ruled by white people? Modern revisionists want to claim that them thar injuns is "native Americans", but we all know the truth....

          Incidentally, the whales were presumably stranded when the Great Flood subsided. The Mountains of Ararat must therefore be in the Americas. That's how white men got there, see?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think it will become clear when they find 30 smashed flower pots of petunias ...

    • by guises (2423402)

      Anthropomorphic Global Warming?

      The global warming got greedy and started whaling for profit?

      (The word you're looking for is anthropogenic.)

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        (The word you're looking for is anthropogenic.)

        You insensitive sight-ist clod! He could be blind, and groping for a Freudian Slit ... I mean worm. Word! Dammit!

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:20PM (#46354019)
    And I had to read a good ways down through TFA to get to the teaser, including the second paragraph, where a marine biologist is quoted as saying, "This is an awesome snapshot of deep time."

    You're welcome.

    • by RockDoctor (15477) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @05:20AM (#46355373) Journal
      'Oceanic algal bloom' is a credible proposition (though there wasn't any of the palynological or micropalaeontological evidence that one could reasonably have hoped for, and there is evidence of fairly active current movement, which doesn't really help an algal bloom hypothesis). But volcanic gas clouds (e.g. a sulphide-rich ignimbrite projecting out into the bay) is also credible.

      At this time, the cause of death isn't clear, and there are multiple credible possibilities.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @12:17AM (#46354293) Journal

    George Lucas's fault. He thought he could do something with whales and time travel in the Star Wars franchise, and this is the result.

    • George Lucas's fault. He thought he could do something with whales and time travel in the Star Wars franchise, and this is the result.

      I knew he was running out of ideas, but ripping off Star Trek IV...?!?

  • Santiago is the capital of Chile. I can remember this because Santiago always ate a lot of chili.

    Even during the most in-climate of weather.
    • by gwolf (26339)

      And Chileans do know at least a bit of chilli (unlike their Argentinian neighbours). But barely enough. Their food is thankfully quite tasty by itself. But, as a Mexican, being in Chile and not being able to find any real chilli... Was quite odd.

  • by djupedal (584558) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:06AM (#46354471)
    The article says:
    "Second, most of the baleen whale skeletons had been preserved “belly-up”—a position that suggests the creatures died at sea, rolled upside down as they decomposed, and then remained inverted when high tides or storm surges deposited them on shore. That ultimate resting position is typical of modern baleen whales that die at sea, Goldbogen says.

    Finally, ripples preserved in the rocks indicate that the carcasses ended up lying crosswise to currents that had cast them onto the beach—just as in modern mass strandings, Pyenson says."


    We've been told that modern 'strandings' are the cause of death (witness all the efforts to return the creatures to deeper waters), not the result.
    • If the alignment of dead, washed-up whale carcasses is the same as that of living, washed-up whale bodies, it at the very least suggests that mass strandings are unintentional, and that the sea has overwhelmed the animals rather than them running themselves aground to escape predators, which was one the theory.
  • The article mentions an "aquatic sloth"

    AQUATIC SLOTH!

  • It was obviously caused by one of our submarines going back in time and using sonar to confuse the whales into grounding themselves
  • Being able to swap radio modules could be fantastic if it reduces the friction involved in switching carriers.

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