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Find Along Chilean Highway Suggests Ancient Mass Stranding of Whales

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the look-at-the-bones dept.

Earth 63

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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Let me guess... (3, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 9 months ago | (#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... (0, Troll)

Mashiki (184564) | about 9 months ago | (#46354025)

Sorry you don't get moderated funny for that anymore. It's heresy against doctrine. It's the rack for you, now repent your sins in the name of AGW!

Re:Let me guess... (1)

Cryacin (657549) | about 9 months ago | (#46354689)

Come on now, we all know it's really caused by aliens using their cell phones. Geez.

Re:Let me guess... (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 9 months ago | (#46355273)

GAY aliens. They said they'd get us all in the end.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46356927)

and from the back....

Re:Let me guess... (3, Interesting)

EvilSS (557649) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Let me guess... (4, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355345)

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.

Re:Let me guess... (2)

228e2 (934443) | about 9 months ago | (#46357103)

mmm . . . whale jam . . . .

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46364187)

HERETIC!!!!

Burn HIM!

Re:Let me guess... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46366071)

People have been failing to ignite me for years. Flame away.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46355593)

"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.

That's actually not funny, being hit by a 230db SONAR blast is pretty painful. A blast like that can rupture tissue and cause the brain to haemorrhage.

I'm guessing too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354335)

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

Re:Let me guess... (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 9 months ago | (#46354401)

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

Re:Let me guess... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 9 months ago | (#46354463)

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.

Re:Let me guess... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355357)

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:Let me guess... (1, Flamebait)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 9 months ago | (#46355849)

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:Let me guess... (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 9 months ago | (#46357347)

(wondering whether the downvotes were failure to detect sarcasm, or just not liking the humour....)

Re:Let me guess... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354439)

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

Re:Let me guess... (1)

guises (2423402) | about 9 months ago | (#46354629)

Anthropomorphic Global Warming?

The global warming got greedy and started whaling for profit?

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

Re:Let me guess... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355367)

(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!

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46356127)

Anthropomorphic? I wonder how that looks. Anthropogenic, on the other hand, at least I know how that feels.

Re:Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46356625)

I think it was sharks testing their lasers.

This was caused by Beta. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354007)

It is having repercussions across the entire timeline.

Re:This was caused by Beta. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354227)

I thought you people left. Why are you here if you hate the new design so much?

Re:This was caused by Beta. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354235)

I thought you people left. Why are you here if you hate the new design so much?

Because we hate you even more.

Re:This was caused by Beta. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354349)

Because the alternatives so far are even worse. Technocrat, for example, will not allow AC posting. I guess those who want to be punish free speech would be attracted to such a policy, but it is not something that people wanting an open exchange of ideas would find very attractive.

Re:This was caused by Beta. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 9 months ago | (#46355859)

Hmm... on the one hand, we do get various posts here from people remaining anonymous because they work for the company in question, but on the other hand we also get rashes of anonymous racism and other abuse. The anonymous beta-bashing is pretty pointless, though: the one group who do know who you are is Slashdot....

Oceanic Algal Blooms? (4, Informative)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

I call bullshit (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354215)

There was no large scale industry or agriculture using vast quantities or fertilizer in Chile 10-15 thousand years ago, so there couldn't have been algae blooms. Algae blooms are the exclusive fault of white anglo capitalists and those hadn't been invented yet.

Re:I call bullshit (1, Troll)

AudioEfex (637163) | about 9 months ago | (#46354297)

Agreed. This cannot be true. Before humans came and fucked up the world nothing bad ever happened in nature, everything was in perfect alignment and all species thrived and there were no extreme weather cycles. The only way this could be true is if time travel to the past eventually got discovered in the future and we went back with all our evil human things and did this.

I think they should get out some metal detectors and start searching for DeLoreans.

Re:I call bullshit (3, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 9 months ago | (#46354315)

No, no, no. Not Humans. White Anglo Humans.

Re:I call bullshit (1)

Sique (173459) | about 9 months ago | (#46355253)

What? Humans died before 1982 too? The Green River Killer must be innocent!

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46357751)

that is patently not true - I cannot explain any other way all the blood, sweat and misery that humanity that the republicans were there since the beginning of time: 6kyo.

Re:Oceanic Algal Blooms? (3, Informative)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355373)

'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.

Re:Oceanic Algal Blooms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46355809)

Correct. This also means that TFA's title is wrong, since it suggests that the whales were alive when they landed ashore, when in fact the whales lie belly-up which shows they were already dead and decomposing.

Sonar (0)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 9 months ago | (#46354207)

It had to be the damn Navy testing advanced sonar!

Activists! Run forth and protest!

Re:Sonar (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354237)

It had to be the damn Navy testing advanced sonar!

Activists! Run forth and protest!

When your mom ends up beaching herself from one of those tests, you won't think it's so funny.

All man's fault (-1, Troll)

sunyjim (977424) | about 9 months ago | (#46354217)

hmm so it's not man made noise in the water like commercial ships and submarine communication that causes whales to beach themselves. F U Greenpiece.

Re:All man's fault (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354253)

Greenpiece? Who are they?

Re:All man's fault (3, Funny)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 9 months ago | (#46354415)

Hippie chicks who put out.

Re:All man's fault (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 9 months ago | (#46354483)

Yeah but if it's green you'd better wear a condom.

Re: All man's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354529)

If there's grass on the field, play ball.

Re: All man's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46355089)

Today the world is full of pedophiles who not only won't the grass mowed but shorn as well.

Re:All man's fault (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355393)

Yeah but if it's green you'd better wear a condom.

Why? Captain Kirk never did, even when he was doing the green chicks in the Shatner.

Re:All man's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46356289)

Here's the relevant video. [macbrosplace.com]

Oldest trick in the book (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354269)

Whales fell for the ol' "Free all-you-can-eat buffet" sign.

George Lucas (2)

istartedi (132515) | about 9 months ago | (#46354293)

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.

Re:George Lucas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354389)

Any evidence to back up this theory of yours?

Re:George Lucas (2)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 9 months ago | (#46355865)

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...?!?

l like it (-1, Offtopic)

kenyirol898 (2437396) | about 9 months ago | (#46354327)

Good! my website: http://www.fhair.net/ [fhair.net] welcome !

A sanguine thought (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 9 months ago | (#46354337)

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.

Re:A sanguine thought (1)

gwolf (26339) | about 9 months ago | (#46354431)

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.

Article seems a bit confused (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Article seems a bit confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354841)

You're not stranded if you're already dead. IMHO the article is actually wrong to call it a "stranding."

Re:Article seems a bit confused (4, Informative)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 9 months ago | (#46355421)

If you RTFP [royalsocie...ishing.org] (it is Open Access ; use it, or lose it!) you'll find that the original researchers don't take that paradigm. They're not at all clear about why the whales died, and think that many of the died and hit the seabed in depths of tens to a hundred or so metres (various lines of evidence : sediment patterns, levels of seabed life ; nearby unambiguous shoreline deposits ; constraints on the angle of slope of the seabed for sediment stability). Though parts of the sequence of beds in which the whales were found were definitely emergent (above sea level) at times, that's not considered the case for the particular beds (plural ! They represent thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years of repeated events.) in which the whale fossils have been found.

TFP isn't confused. The coverage by a journalist working for Science Magazine may be. (I RTFP a few days ago, and promoted it to several geological discussion lists.)

Re:Article seems a bit confused (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 9 months ago | (#46355875)

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.

moHd 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46354511)

partbies, but here too m4ny rules and of Jordan Hubbard

You're all missing the point (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 9 months ago | (#46358511)

The article mentions an "aquatic sloth"

AQUATIC SLOTH!

the cause (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about 9 months ago | (#46358775)

It was obviously caused by one of our submarines going back in time and using sonar to confuse the whales into grounding themselves

Aquatic Sea Sloths? (1)

MXB2001 (3023413) | about 9 months ago | (#46359611)

_That_ I'd like to have seen...

This could be great if it destroys carrier lock-in (1)

fastgriz (1052034) | about 9 months ago | (#46360509)

Being able to swap radio modules could be fantastic if it reduces the friction involved in switching carriers.

This could be great if it destroys carrier lock-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46364241)

9 million year old whale corpses?

maybe you commented on the wrong article Jim

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