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The Valley of the Whales

Egypt is one of the driest regions in the world, having just a few inches of rain a year, but the bodies of whales have emerged from the shifting sands of the Sahara Desert.
The fossilised remains are revealing how much of Egypt was once covered by a vast ancient ocean around 50 million years ago.

Known as Wadi al-Hitan, or the Valley of the Whales, the area contains the fossilised bones of an ancestor of modern whales which have fascinated tourists and palaeontologists alike since they were first discovered in 1902.

 

The whale skeletons offer a glimpse into the past, as this species of whale is now extinct. The Archaeoceti - which means 'ancient wales' – found in Wadial-Hitan are some of the earliest forms of whales to emerge.

Cetaceans evolved from a land-based creature with legs. Over millions of years of evolution, legs became redundant for the seafaring creatures, but some of the Archaeoceti skeletons found in Wadi al-Hitan still have their legs, complete with toes, intact.

The Valley of the Whales is a UNESCO world heritage site.