Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wadi el Hitan

The Encyclopedia of Earth

Wadi Al-Hitan (29° 15’ 13'' to 29° 23’ 56''N by 30° 00’ 41'' to 30° 10’ 06 E) is a World Heritage Site in the Western Desert 150 kilometers (km) southwest of Cairo and 80 km west of Faiyum in the Wadi el-Rayan Protected Area. . . .

Wadi Al-Hitan is of international value as it represents an outstanding record of Middle to Late Eocene life and geological evolution. It is the only place in the world where the skeletons of families of archaic whales can be seen in their original geological and geographic setting of the shallow nutrient-rich bay of an early sea of some 40 million years ago. There is no other place in the world yielding archaic whale fossils of such quality in such abundance and concentration. Many of the sirenians and cetaceans are preserved as virtually complete articulated skeletons which, uniquely, preserve reduced hind limbs, making them intermediate between earlier land mammals and later modern whales. The nominated area contains most of the key interrelated and interdependent elements in their natural relationships which provide a robust foundation for reconstructing the mosaic of paleoenvironments and palaeogeography of a southern coastal realm of the ancient Tethyan Ocean during Eocene time, enabling interpretation of how animals then lived and how they were related to each other. The high number, concentration and state of preservation of these fossils is unequalled. They are of iconic value for the study of evolutionary transition, and make the site vitally important.

See the above page for more.

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