| LOS MAITENES, Chile
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.
Vergara, who teaches at the nearby University of
Valparaiso, said the gentle hills around Los Maitenes were once
part of the sea bed.
The teenagers found the fossils while on a field trip with
their biology teacher Veronica Andrade.
"We got to the place thinking we might find a bone,
something small and some invertebrate fossils," Andrade told
Reuters. "But because the kids are restless they fanned out all
over the area and they found lots of fragments close to the
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.
"I don't know of any other find like this," said Valparaiso
Gov. Ricardo Bravo, who added the provincial government was
considering building a natural history museum on the site.