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Chile's Torres del Paine park yields fossil treasure trove

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Paleontologists have discovered nearly 50 entire ichthyosaur fossils in southern Chile, one of the best finds of its kind to date, they said on Tuesday.

The fossils of the dolphin-like creature were unearthed in the country's Torres del Paine National Park, whose spiky peaks and brilliant turquoise lakes make it a magnet for trekkers and nature lovers.

Researchers said the marine reptiles, buried by rocks from the huge Tyndall Glacier, lived between the Triassic and Cretaceous periods, which extended from 250 million to 66 million years ago.

"This great ichthyosaur cemetery, the way the remains are deposited, is unique," Christian Salazar, paleontologist researcher and natural history museum curator, said on Tuesday.

"It's the most recent great find in their history. That's going to answer a lot of questions about how they became extinct, where they migrated to, how they lived," he said.

The 46 fossils were found in about three months of excavating, Salazar added, and more were likely to be found.

(This story corrects to remove reference to ichthyosaur as dinosaur in headline, changes to marine reptile in text)

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien, editing by G Crosse)

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