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Ancient 41-Million-Year-Old Whale Found in Egyptian Desert Dig

Ancient 41-Million-Year-Old Whale Found in Egyptian Desert Dig

Ancient 41-Million-Year-Old Whale Found in Egyptian Desert Dig

Ancient 41-Million-Year-Old Whale Found in Egyptian Desert Dig

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Egyptian palaeontologists have uncovered a fascinating glimpse into prehistoric times with the discovery of an extinct whale species named “Tutcetus rayanensis.” This ancient creature, which lived 41 million years ago, provides insights into the transitional phase when whale ancestors were transitioning from land to sea.

The species has been named in honor of the Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun and the Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area in Egypt’s Fayoum Oasis where the fossil was found. With a size of around 2.5 meters and a weight of approximately 187 kilograms, Tutcetus is the smallest known species of basilosaurids, a group of ancient whales that adapted to aquatic life.

Hesham Sallam, the team leader from the American University in Cairo, hailed the discovery as a remarkable insight into the early stages of the shift towards a fully aquatic lifestyle. The basilosaurids, during their evolutionary journey, developed aquatic traits like streamlined bodies, powerful tails, flippers, and tail fins, as well as vestigial hind limbs.

The Fayoum Oasis, known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site Wadi al-Hitan (Valley of the Whales), has yielded abundant fossil evidence of early whale evolution, shedding light on Earth’s distant past when this region lay beneath a tropical sea during the Eocene period.

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