The desert whales of Chile’s Atacama Desert pose an embarrassing riddle for paleontologists: they testify directly to a global flood.
The Atacama Desert
These desert whales turned up in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. It is a narrow strip of land, about 600-700 miles long. It lies between 16 and 24 degrees south latitude. The Atacama is the driest place in the world, by all accounts. It also contains the highest desert region in the world. The Atacama Plateau, its highest elevation, near Bolivia, rises 13,000 feet above sea level. (If you were in an airliner open to the air at that altitude, the captain would drop the oxygen masks.)
The Desert Whales
The Associated Press released this report on the desert whales of Atacama this morning at 12:08 a.m. EST. (See also this blog entry from Nature.com, and other articles here and here.) Paleontologists have found at least 80 whale skeletons, which the sedimentary rock and desert sands have preserved almost perfectly. The find is at least half a mile inland.
Tellingly, the AP article does not mention the elevation of the site. It does, however, name the nearest town. This is Copiapó, Chile. (Last year, 33 miners waited for 69 straight days, trapped at the bottom of a mine shaft near that town until rescuers could drill down to them and lift them out.) Elevation: 391 meters, or 1,283 feet. Not as high as the Atacama Plateau, but definitely not at sea level, either.
The favorite theories about how the desert whales came to rest in this spot are:
- They beached themselves over a period of thousands of years, 7 million years ago.
- They swam into a lagoon, and later an earthquake or storm cut the lagoon off from the ocean.
Ironically, a road-building crew, building the Pan-American Highway, found the first signs of the desert whales. The Chilean government plans to build a museum to house the remains where they lie. It would be an extension of the Paleontological Museum in Caldera.
Problems with conventional theories
The obvious problem is: How did eighty whales wash ashore, half a mile inland, and at an elevation greater even than the height of the Empire State Building? The project scientists talk hopefully of scour marks or deposits of gypsum or crystallized salt. But they cannot explain finding so many whales, all in one spot, more than 100 building stories above the beach. That could be why the Associated Press neglected to report an elementary fact like the elevation of the site of the desert whales. (They named the town, but tried to imply that the site is much lower than the town actually is.)
The real answer
The most likely solution is the obvious one: the Atacama Desert region, including Copiapó, was once underwater.The Atacama Plateau rose up when the Andes Mountains formed and then sank into the earth’s crust. (Every mountain chain has a plateau next to it, on either side. The Andes are no exception.) The future site of Copiapó rose also, though not as high as the plateau.
And when was the Atacama Desert underwater? During the Global Flood, of course. The Andes are in fact part of a much longer chain of mountains that stretches from the Yukon Territory to the tip of South America. Those mountains formed when the continental plate holding the Americas crashed and buckled. (That in turn happened after the event that formed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge shoved the Americas westward—hard.) When such high mountains form, they sink. As they sink, the land around them rises. The rise of the Colorado Plateau trapped two great lakes, which later spilled their contents and carved the Grand Canyon. The rise of the Atacama Plateau and other lands downslope and to the west, we now know, trapped the desert whales. Large amounts of sediment buried them, and the dry winds preserved their remains for thousands of years after that. (For details, see this excellent description of the Hydroplate Theory of the Global Flood.)
This is some of the most striking evidence yet for a global flood. How paleontologists will avoid that explanation should interest any student of logic.
Featured image: Digital Elevation Model of the Atacama Desert and Pacific slope of the central Andes, showing boundary (also referred to as Arid Diagonal) between tropical easterlies/summer precipitation that originates in the lowlands of the Amazon Basin and Gran Chaco. Since 1997, Desert Laboratory scientists have been collaborating with Chilean scientists to reconstruct the climatic, hydrological, and ecological history of this fascinating area, using plant assemblages from fossil rodent middens and the stratigraphy of wetlands. Our initial studies concentrated on the area around Salar de Atacama, but we continue to fill in with new sites along a 1200-km latitudinal transect, including Quebrada del Chaco. Source: United States Geological Survey.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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