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Owlscrying

Chilean teenagers find trove of whale fossils

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June 29

Los Maitenes, Chile - Chilean teenagers on a field trip have found what experts say could be a treasure trove of fossils from whales which died millions of years ago.

Teenagers from a school in Concon, a town on the Pacific coast, found the fossils last month in the hills near the village of Los Maitenes, nearly four miles from the sea and 100 miles from the capital Santiago.

They found fossilized jawbones, backbones and ribs of four whales which scientists say likely died 5 million years ago.

Geologists expect to find more whale fossils in the area. "What we have to work out is whether we're dealing with a few examples that have washed in on the tide or whether we're talking about a real whale cemetery," said Hernan Vergara, a marine geologist studying the find.

He said the gentle hills around Los Maitenes were once part of the sea bed.

Local authorities are hailing the discovery as one of the most important of its kind in central Chile and say they plan to declare the area a national monument, which would give the area protected status.

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