A newly found species of four-legged whale has been called Phiomicetus anubis after the ancient Egyptian god of death.
A new type of four-legged whale that existed 43 million years ago has been found by scientists.
Because of its skull’s likeness to that of the ancient jakal-headed god of death Anubis, a fragmentary fossil of the species was unearthed in Egypt’s West Desert and called Phiomicetus anubis.
According to researchers, the discovery is crucial in aiding scientists’ understanding of whales’ shift from land to water.
Whales, like hippos, descended from four-legged hoofed mammals that roamed the world 50 million years ago.
The fossil is the earliest known whale from Africa, belonging to the Protocetidae family of extinct whales that were halfway between being amphibious and entirely aquatic.
According to Abdullah Gohar, principal author of a report on the discovery published in the journal Proceedings, “Phiomicetus anubis is a crucial new whale species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African paleontology.”
His co-author Mohamed Sameh stated that the whales of this time period “vary from semiaquatic crocodile-like whales to huge totally aquatic whales,” which have mainly remained a mystery until now.
The Phiomicetus anubis would have been a top predator in the wild, according to experts who measured it.
Its remnants were discovered in the Eocene rocks of the Western Desert’s Fayum Depression, which was previously covered by sea.
Since then, the fossil has been studied at the Mansoura University Vertebrate Palaeontology Centre in west Egypt, where it will be studied further.