Evolution World Tour: Wadi Hitan, Egypt; Abigail Tucker; Smithsonian Magazine

Egypt – Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley)

In Egypt’s Western Desert, evidence abounds that before they were the kings of the ocean, whales roamed the earth on four legs.

In 1902, a team of geologists guided their camels into a valley in Egypt’s Western Desert—a desolate, dream-like place. Centuries of strong wind had sculpted sandstone rocks into alien shapes, and at night the moonlight was so bright that the sand glowed like gold. There was no water for miles. A nearby hill was known as “Mountain of Hell” because of the infernal summer heat.

Yet in this parched valley lay the bones of whales.

Some of the skeletons were 50 feet long, with vertebrae as thick as campfire logs. They dated back 37 million years, to an era when a shallow, tropical sea covered this area and all of northern Egypt.

 

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