Wadi El- Hitan or Zeuglodon Valley
The Valley Of The Whales, also known as Zeuglodon Valley, is located 60 km south of Wadi El-Rian in El-Fayoum Oasis. It is around 150 km southwest of Cairo and is a protected area and has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2005. The area is characterized by various fossils of whales and other sea creatures and the hot desert climate also includes a number of wild animals in the ecosystem still today.
The Valley Of The Whales is also characterized by the existence of movable sand dunes, four natural sulfuric springs, plant groups that contain 15 species of desert plants, and about 15 types of wild mammals like the white deer, the Egyptian deer, the fennec fox, the red fox, and others. The area also has 16 species of reptiles and over 100 species of resident and migrating birds.
We went to the Valley Of The Whales (Wadi El-Hitan) and it was a very amazing experience. The site was discovered by scientists in 1936 and is located 35km west of the Wadi El-Ryan, deep in the desert Western Desert. It is basically an open-air museum full of fossils that dates back 45 million years and contains petrified, primitive whale, skeletons, shark teeth, shells, and roots of Mangroves preserved in soft rocks. Everywhere you go here you find petrified sea shells and corals. You will need a good 4*4 car to reach this amazing place!
At the valley we found an expedition from the University of Michigan that was digging and had discovered a large walking whale. The University of Michigan had done some earlier digging there in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 1993, during which time some 400 archaeocete and sirenian skeletons were found and mapped!
This time they came back with professor Philip D. Gingerich, a Professor of Paleontology, Geological Sciences, Biology and Anthropology as well as a Director of the Museum of Paleontology at The University of Michigan. A very experienced geologist, that's for sure!. I had the pleasure of meeting him on site, and he was so kind to let me know what the new discovery is about: the new whale fossil the crew has found is around 44 million years old! Wow!
This whale once had feet and used to walk on the shore before getting into the water. This oldest and most primitive walking whale had first uncovered in Pakistan and was named pakicetus which lived 50 million years ago. However, this is the first time this kind of walking whale has ever been found in any part of Africa and this time it was found in this remote barren site of Wadi El-Hitan, the Valley Of The Whales.
The whale discovered in the Valley Of The Whales by U of M is called ambulocetus natans. It moved easily between land and sea and was roughly the size of a walrus, inhabiting coastal environments in the distant past. These new fossils also provide insight into how these animals got around.