Why Do You Think There Is A Whale Fossil in The Middle of The Desert?

There are many places around the world that are home to ancient fossils, but none as strange as Whale Valley, otherwise known as Wadi al-Hitan. The expanse of desert in Egypt is home to a literal graveyard of whale bones, fossilized and preserved under centuries of sand, dirt, and gravel.

While researchers have unearthed most of the secrets this valley holds, the actual origin of the species belonging to the fossils still remains somewhat of a mystery.

Entire skeletal structures have been exhumed under the careful watch of research teams, and the tremendous size, combined with the unique features, of these whales is what piques the interest of many.

A once-ancient mammal, this species tells the tale of evolution through the place where they lie, undisturbed, in the middle of the Western desert in Egypt, already one of the most fascinating countries in the world.

Archaeoceti, to be exact. The whale species we’re so familiar with today and the species that existed up to 53 million years ago are not so similar. While it’s believed that modern whales did evolve from this species, the Archaeoceti were actually land-dwellers as well as water-dwellers.

It’s believed that this is the oldest species of whale known to man, and not a tremendous amount is known about them. It’s also believed they may have migrated as far as North America, thus their modern species line.

While the whales we know today are marine life, the Archaeoceti walked on land with the capacity to go underwater, very similar to the Hippopotamus. Similarly, camels, giraffes, and pigs are in the same taxonomic group. This species would have been able to roam what we now know as Egpyt and, somewhere along the way, began los ing its hind legs in order to adapt and evolve to a full-time life in the water.

The remains found in Wadi al-Hitan demonstrate clearly an evolution between the early land-walkers and the marine life we know now.

From backbones to stomach contents, researchers have found fossils that are in extraordinary condition, albeit a strange archeological find. This is what prompted the sight to become protected land, as research is ongoing and fossils are still examined to this day.

The sheer number of fossils is also worth protecting, as the expanse of this ancient land contains the key to learning more about the whale’s evolution, including the time period during which Archaeoceti lived during.

While the land is protected, there is a visitor area set up so that those interested may observe the goings-on during archeological digs. Only about 1,000 people visit the site each year, helping to maintain the integrity of the dig site. It’s also not the easiest location in Egypt to reach, as travel is challenging and the area itself is quite isolated.

Fossilised basilosaurus legs prove the giant mammals once walked on land.
The extinct oasis has been discovered to be a home to other ancient marine life as well, as the remains of sharks, crocodiles, and even turtles have been exhumed along with the current whale skeletons.

It’s believed that this was once a water-filled haven for wildlife, as there have been so many fossils found belonging to various different species that don’t quite match anything living today.

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