Wadi El-Hitan (Valley of the Whales) is a natural reserve area located in the western desert, about 200 km west of Cairo. The area is of important paleontological interest due to the existence of wide variety of fossilized flora and fauna. On 15th July 2005 Wadi El- Hitan was designated as a UNISCO World Heritage Site owing to the important 40 million year-old whale skeletons found there. A fossil remains of the first primitive whales and ancestors of the modern day whales.
Fossils in Wadi El-Hitan
The whale fossils represent one of the iconic stories of evolution: the emergence of the whales as modern ocean-going mammals from a previous life as land passed animals. According to the World Conservation Union, Valley of the whales is the most significant site in the world to demonstrate the evolution of whales.
The valley contains about 400 rare fossils of whales. The presence of fossils of other early animals such as sharks, shark teeth, crocodiles, sawfish, turtles and rays found at Wadi El-Hitan makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time, adding to its justification to be cited as a world Heritage site. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape.
Nature in Wadi El-Hitan
Wadi El-Hitan is also home to 15 species of desert plants and about 15 types of wild mammals including the North African jackal, red fox, Egyptian mongoose, African wildcat, and dorcas gazelle.
The valley is located behind a mountain, known as Garet Gohannam, (gara) means hill or mountain and Garet Gohannam means the mountain of hell. In the light of the setting sun, the mountain seems ablaze with an eerie red light drawing a fascinating scene.
Wadi El-Hitan Museum
Wadi El-Hitan museum is located near Garet Gohannam north-west of Wadi El-Rayan. There are 406 skeleton of primitive kind of whales in addition to the huge skeleton of the whale called the Lizard which was discovered in 2005.
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