In the desert valley of Wadi-al-Hitan, the first-ever fossil museum has been unveiled by Egypt. Around 150 kilometers Southwest of Cairo, it is the first museum completely dedicated to an early form of a whale, now dead out famous as the “Walking Whale”. And so, the beautiful centerpiece of the museum is a 37 million-year-old and 20-meter-long skeleton of a legged form of whale that testifies to how recent times whales evolved from land mammals.
Hence, the sand-colored, dome-shaped Fossils and Climate Change Museum was built on a grant of two billion euros from Italy, according to Italian Ambassador Maurizio Massari. Moreover, the Valley of the Whales museum is also home to early tools used by primary humans and numerous whale fossils exhibited in glass boxes corroborating the evolutionary transition of the early whales from land to water creatures.
But how did fossils of whales end up in the middle of the hottest desert? That’s because the valley of wadi-al-Hitan was submerged in water some 40 to 50 million years ago by a sea called the “Tethys Sea” that reached far south of the existing Mediterranean. The Valley of Whales encompasses a treasured collection of fossils and bones of a now vanished, suborder of whales, called the archaeoceti.
These fossils explain one of the greatest secrecies of the evolution of whales: however, the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a preceding life as a land-based animal. Henceforth, the fossils of Wadi Al-Hitan dating back to fifty million years show the youngest archaeocetes in the last stages of evolution from land animals to marine existence.
Besides they already display the typical streamlined body form of modern whales, whilst retaining definite original aspects of skull and tooth structure, as well as hind legs. Therefore, several of the whale skeletons are in good condition as they’ve been well preserved in the rock formations. Though Semi-complete skeletons are found in the valley, and in some cases, even stomach contents are preserved.
However, the Museum was opened as part of concentrated government efforts to attract much-needed tourists, driven away by recent militant attacks, and restore confidence in the safety of its attractions. But Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy cautioned against interpreting the museum’s opening as a “full endorsement of the theory of evolution,” which clashes with Islam. In addition, that is a completely different matter,” he said, we’re still very confident and tied to our Islamic belief system.