Wadi Al- Hitan or a Whale Valley is situated some 150 km South West of Cairo.
It is famous fo numerous fossils of ancient whales that are
found here. Wadi Al- Hitan or Valley of the
Whales is famous for full skeletons of whales that once swam here then this
part of Africa was submerged under the sea. Evolution of a land based animal
to a marine mammal is easily traceable by the fossils that are spread all
around the region. It is no surprise that this part of Egyptian desert is
named UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its isolation from most of human
settlement gave chance to scientists discover and describe many whale
species of Archaeocetes suborder. Known to palaeontologists as Dorudon Atrox,
this ancient ancestor of modern whales is commonly found in the area. While
its body shows characteristics of a marine animal, it still keeps its
rudimentary hind limbs as well as skull and tooth design of a land animal.
Fossils from Wadi al-Khitan were not the first
discovered samples of ancient whales, however, they are
distinguished by their large number and good preservation - even the
contents of the stomachs of some samples were preserved. The remains
of other animals found in Wadi al-Khitan, sharks, crocodiles,
sawflies, turtles and stingrays, allow you to recreate the
environment and ecological condition of that period.
first fossil remains were found in Wadi al-Khitan in the winter of
1902-1903. The fossils belong to the Dorudons, the earliest
representatives of the ancient Archaeoceti whales, and reflect the
stage of their development at which they had almost completely lost
their hind limbs, their body was streamlined, like modern whales,
but the tooth system and skull still had a primitive structure . The
largest skeleton reaches a length of 21 m, it has well-developed
flippers with five fingers, but at the same time - it is still quite
developed hind limbs. The body shape of the whales found was
serpentine, they were carnivorous.
Wadi al-Khitan is also the
habitat of 15 species of desert plants, 15 species of mammals,
including the North African jackal, red fox, Egyptian mongoose,
African wild cat and others. The presence of 19 species of reptiles
and 36 species of birds attracted by the Wadi al-Rayana lakes is
In July 2007, the Egyptian government
announced that 2 vehicles driven by Belgian diplomats had entered a
guarded area and caused damage of $ 325,000. The Belgian government
refused to acknowledge the damage caused by its diplomats. The
incident remained unresolved.