The Digsite at Cerro Ballena

Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists study several fossil whale skeletons at Cerro Ballena, next to the Pan-American Highway in Atacama Region, Chile, in 2011. The fossils were discovered when the highway was undergoing expansion, so the researchers had to work fast to extract the bones. But while they could save the fossils, they couldn't save all the surrounding dirt, which could give clues about how they died. The paleontologists' solution? To create virtual 3-D models of the entire site with the help of the Smithsonian 3-D digitization team. See virtual models of the fossil whales, and find out how the whales died.

Fossil Whale Digsite at Cerro Ballena, Chile

Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution