The Valley of the Whales in Fayoum

Located around 130 kilometers from Cairo, you will find an amazing open air museum. Thousands of fossilized shells, cetaceans and walking cetacean skeletons lie under the feet of visitors.

In 2005, the Cetacean Valley was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located in the protected area of Wadi el-Rayan. The area is famous for its shifting dunes and natural springs surrounded by desert vegetation. About 15 species of wild animals live here, including sand foxes, red foxes and antelopes. However, the most famous are the fossils of organisms that lived millions of years ago in the ancient Sea of Tethys. Fossilized shells and corals lie all over the area, and in appropriately marked areas you can admire the skeletons of prehistoric mammals (including Paleontology) and reptiles that once lived in this area and were discovered by palaeontologists. According to the findings of geologists, this place was once a bay where older animals came to finish their lives. Which is why so many skeletons are scattered around. Among them are 240 fossilized remains of Zeuglodon, or Basilosaurus (a species of cephalopod), whose name means "king of reptiles". This term is the result of a mistake made in 1835 when the first skeleton was discovered. It was then believed that whales belonged to reptiles, not mammals. Zeuglodon refers to the term Wadi el-Hitan - Zeuglodon Valley, used by scientists.

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An interesting issue is the cetacean skeleton dating back more than 44 million years, which lived both in water and on land. The animal once had limbs and walked along the seashore. As a result of evolution, the limbs turned into fins, which allowed him to completely submerge into the water. It is the first find of this type in Africa. The fossils of the oldest and most primitive "walking" whale have been found in Pakistan. This mammal, called Pakicetus, lived over 50 million years ago.

The Cetacean Valley is considered by modern scientists to be the best palaeogenic site in Africa. The impressive number of skeletons of prehistoric animals (about 400) and their uniqueness contributed to this. Among the fossils of reptiles discovered on the site, the greatest surprise is the Gigantophis, a giant snake that can reach a length of up to 9 meters, making it the longest snake known to mankind. Here you can also find Pterosphenus, a water snake, and Thomistom, resembling today's crocodiles, who’s relatives still live today in parts of Africa.

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