Egyptian researchers have discovered a new type of four-legged whale that existed 43 million years ago for the first time in Egypt’s Western Desert.
Scientists from Mansoura University analyzed the remains of the amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis, which was discovered in middle Eocene rocks in Fayum Depression, a Western Desert in Egypt. The area was formerly submerged by the ocean and is rich in fossils though it is currently desert.
According to the experts, the newly discovered amphibious whale belongs to the Protocetidae family of vanished whales.
Because of its skull resemblance, it was called after Anubis, the ancient Egyptian jackal-headed god of the dead.
“Phiomicetus anubis is a key new whale species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African palaeontology,” Abdullah Gohar, the study’s principal author, said according to the BBC.
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday, August 25, the Phiomicetus Anubis possessed strong jaws to grasp food, weighed over 1300 lbs (600kg), and measured 10 ft (3 m) in length. In addition, walking on land and swimming in water were both possible for the whale.
It was Africa’s oldest protocetid whale, as its incomplete skeleton proved.
The Phiomicetus Anubis is thought to be Africa’s first semi-aquatic whale though this is not the first time a whale with feet has been discovered.
A 43-million-year-old whale fossil with four limbs, webbed feet, and hooves was found in Peru by paleontologists in 2011.
The discovery of the new whale has sparked discussions over past ecosystems and studies into the origins and coexistence of previous whales in Egypt.
According to Euronews, whales are vital for removing carbon from the atmosphere as they are at the top of the food chain and are crucial to our oceans’ health.
During its life, each whale absorbs a significant amount of carbon dioxide. They store a lot of it in their bodies. Therefore, tonnes of carbon dioxide could be stored in their bodies.
However, six of the 13 large whale species are listed as vulnerable or threatened by the WWF.
Habitat deterioration, toxins, ecosystem change, whale observing nuisance, industrial noises, illegal whaling, decreasing prey quantity owing to overfishing, and oil spills are all considered hazards.