Exploring Chile's Marine Fossil Record in the Atacama Desert

Smithsonian curator of fossil marine mammals Nick Pyenson and a team of collaborators are heading into Chile's Atacama Desert, shown here. They'll study a rich bonebed of fossil marine vertebrates that lived off the Chilean coast around 8 million years ago. The bonebed was once a seafloor that preserved the skeletons of many familiar marine animals that live offshore Chile today, as well as completely extinct animals, such as toothed seabirds, aquatic sloths, and walrus-like dolphins. The team, which includes key Chilean collaborators, is trying to understand how marine communities in the geologic past were structured differently from those of today's ocean. To do this, they'll study the bones and rocks from the bonebed pictured here. Follow the team's latest updates on the Pyenson Lab blog.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Toothed seabirds, walrus dolphins... from just the sound of some of these names in breeding among animals then were common place... It will be very interesting to follow what they will discover. I personally am looking forward to what they will find and besides this is something that some teachers or professors may want to follow and discuss with their class as new fossils are being dug up. 7AvaALLSKCOOL8