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In Images: Marine Fossils from an Ancient Mass Die-Off

Mass stranding

(Image credit: © Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution )

Researchers have discovered dozens of fossilized skeletons of marine animals in what was once an ancient tidal flat in northern Chile. [Read full story]

First of its kind

(Image credit: © Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution)

The piles of bones appear in four distinct layers, suggesting that the animals died in repeated events of what are known as mass strandings. The researchers believe the animals were poisoned to death by harmful algal blooms that produce toxins capable of killing marine life when they accumulate in large quantities. [Read full story]

Road cut

(Image credit: © Adam Metallo / Smithsonian Institution )

The fossils were discovered in a road cut. [Read full story]

Fossil whales

(Image credit: © James F. Parham / California State University, Fullerton )

Whales were the most common animal found within the fossils. [Read full story]

3D scans

(Image credit: © Vince Rossi / Smithsonian Institution )

The researchers collected 3D scans of the bones to analyze back in the lab. [Read full story]

3D scanning tent

(Image credit: © Smithsonian Institution )

The researchers set up tents to control the lighting for the 3D scans. [Read full story]

Laura Poppick
Laura Poppick is a contributing writer for Live Science, with a focus on earth and environmental news. Laura has a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Laura has a good eye for finding fossils in unlikely places, will pull over to examine sedimentary layers in highway roadcuts, and has gone swimming in the Arctic Ocean.