I am a Smithsonian paleontologist who solved the mystery of a massive whale graveyard in the middle of the desert. AMA!
Hi! I'm Nick Pyenson a paleontologist that the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. I just published a paper about the massive fossil whale graveyard at Cerro Ballena, in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This amazing site of an ancient marine mammal massacre was caused by toxic algal blooms. You can read more here: http://smithsonianscience.org/2014/02/algae-assassin-found-responsible-for-whale-mass-grave-in-chile/
Ask me about my work, or about ancient marine mammals like walrus whales, aquatic sloths or mini seals. Or what it's like to get paid to dig in the dirt in some pretty cool places.
You can also see high res photos of the Cerro Ballena dig site and play with interactive 3D models of fossils and a quarry map at http://cerroballena.si.edu/
ETA Thank you guys for all the awesome questions! I'm sorry I can't do more, but I've got to rush off. Tweet to me @PyensonLab and you can also follow @NMNH for more science fun.