Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finds from Whale Valley

Al Ahram Weekly (Mahmoud Bakr)

An Egyptian team has discovered a large number of prehistoric whale remains just north of Lake Qaroun in Fayoum south of Cairo. One of the whale skeletons is smaller than a basilosaurus, but bigger than a dorudon atrox, scientists say, making reference to the remains of other now extinct whale species already found in the vicinity.

The most interesting skeleton of those found, believed to be some 40-45 million years old, is characterised by its remarkably long vertebrae. The skull and the lower jaw of the skeleton have also been found intact, as have several ribs and some 20 vertebrae.

Scientists have also found 10 vertebrae from a whale slightly larger than a dorudon atrox, and they are now investigating whether the bones belong to a new species. Part of a dorudon atrox has also been uncovered, consisting of 15 vertebrae and a few ribs, as have several other partial skeletons of the same type, containing a total of 20 vertebrae, all in a well-preserved condition.

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