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Scientists found jaw, tooth and limb fragments of the creatures "ecologically similar" to killer whales at two sites in the Loa river basin near the mining city of Calama.

The find helps scientists fill gaps in evolution, said Rodrigo Otero, a University of Chile paleontologist who led the research.

The complete fossil, under excavation since 2017, is likely to measure six to seven meters (19.7 to 23 feet). The skull is around a meter (3.3 feet) long, with teeth each around eight to 10 centimeters (3.1 to 3.9 inches) long, Otero said.

The study was published in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences in early September.

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