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A team of palaeontologists have unearthed a trove of ancient whale fossils, believed to be more than 40 million years old, in Peru’s Ocucaje desert.

The discovery provides new evidence of the evolutionary link between sea mammals and their land-dwelling ancestors.

Palaeontologist Rodolfo Salas explained the importance of the ground-breaking find: “We already knew about the paleontological richness of Ocucaje dating back 10-12 million years.”

“Now we can say that the most important primitive sea mammal deposit in South America is at Ocucaje,” Salas continued.

Over millions of years of life in the water, sea mammals evolved – with legs becoming fins – to become more like modern-day whales and dolphins.

Before the Peruvian discovery, evidence of such ancient sea mammals had only been found in Egypt, Pakistan, India and North America.

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