Eman is a writer and an engineer. She loves to write about natural parks in Egypt.
A Whale Skeleton
Wadi Al Hitan (Whale Valley) is a protected area (Natural Park) located within the (Rayyan Valley) Natural Reserve in the Western Desert of Egypt inside Fayoum Governorate to about 150 km southwest of Cairo the capital of Egypt. It covers an area of 1759 km2 and contains more than 400 fossils of whales and other marine animals that had lived there 40 million years ago. At that time, this area was a part of a huge ocean.
Wadi Hitan (Whale Valley) Protected Area (Natural Park)
The first group of fossils of the whales was discovered in 1901. Basilosaurus Isis Whale which is 18 meters long and a smaller whale (5 meters) of Dorudon Atrox was discovered in 1905. These fossils were classified as new species of whales in the Museum of Natural History in London.
In 1989, the team of Egyptian and American paleontologists discovered the first samples of the Basilosaurus whale structure and the Dorudon whale with their small legs and feet. In 1996 another 5 meters long whale fossil was discovered. The first mammalian mammal from the elephant's ancestor which was identified as Moeritherium was discovered in 2005.
The geological team has located more than 400 fossils of whales, sea cows, crabs sea turtles and other marine animals in this valley some of them are completed structures.
Whale Valley Fossil
What did Scientists Confirm about Whale Valley ?
Scientists confirmed that the whale valley is an exceptional site for a gathering of ancient marine life. The Whale Valley area is characterized by a unique ecosystem of wetlands, geological structures, aquatic eyes, and rare fossils.
- The importance of the whale valley is attributed to the largest numbers of high-quality fossils reaching more than 400 fossils of whales skeletons, crocodiles, sawfish, sharks and other marine animals which depicting the activity of these organisms that have lived for more than 40 million years ago, their lifestyle and evolution over time from terrestrial animals to marine animals.
- Fossilized roots of the mangrove trees that were discovered in the Whale Valley and confirmed that the area was an ancient shoreline.
- The area is the most numerous and the quality of the excavation compared to other locations around the world. As well as its presence in the logic of a protected attraction and represents a great importance World Heritage.
- At the same time, the whale valley is a natural habitat for endangered animals such as white gazelle, Egyptian gazelle, and red fox. Rare migration birds such as Shaheen_falcon, Gazelle falcon. Types of migration birds such as quail.
- This area is one of the most beautiful places in the world because of the small sandhills and the sandstone rocks which formation of various shapes that gives the area this international importance.
What was the reason behind changing these land mammals to marine animals?
55 million years ago, global warming occurred results in an exceptional increase in temperature more than any geological age, which prompted some mammals to seek new habitat. The shoreline was a suitable place to find food. Over time mammals evolved to rely on plenty of fish and other shoreline foods, and so the need to move underwater to obtain food. This means that four-legged land-dwelling mammals were evolved to whales. This explains why whales as air-breathing mammals live in oceans.
Sand Stone Rocks of Whale Valley
The Rock Formation of Whale Valley
The story of whale valley is related to the global change that occurred before, during and after the rock formation of whale valley.
- Forty million years ago, two geological processes changed the face of the earth, the first process established the old shape of the earth and the second showed the continuously occurring changes.
- Both of the ancient Mediterranean Sea and Tethys Sea (Tethys_Ocean) were located in North Africa.
- Around (35 million - 250 million) years ago Tethys Sea was connecting between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean through the land of Saudi Arabia now.
- Warm weather prevented snowing in the North Arctic and South Arctic, which caused the ocean rising.
- The presence of the Tethys Sea in the North of Africa continued for hundreds of millions of years.
- If this was continuing Egypt was remaining under the surfaces of the water but after the rocks of Whale Valley had been embedded, the Earth's climate changed and this led to the transformation of many oceans into the snow, leading to the dehydration of the Tethys Sea and the emergence of the Land of Egypt.
- After that, the earth exposed to different geological times to a more humid climate than we are now. Heavy rains caused rivers that abled to remove many rocks and sediments, which was probably the cause of the formation of whale valley.
Wadi Al Hitan (Valley of Whales) UNESCO Video
Whale Valley Museum
The Whale Valley Museum was inaugurated on the 14th of January 2016. This museum is the first of its kind in Egypt in terms of its rare collections of fossils dating back millions of years. It has an architectural in keeping with the nature of the whale valley, which helps to show the treasure of nature. Fossils in the museum help in detecting climate change.
Fossil Museum at The Whale Valley
Whale Valley Fossil
For The Visitors
Inside the valley, the excavations were surrounded by materials from the surrounding environment and provided corridors for visitors to view the excavations without prejudice to them. The number of visitors to the valley is increasing, especially after opening the museum. More than 2000 visitors a year go to the whale valley by jeep and buses. The Egyptian government has allocated a small place for camping inside the valley for visitors who like camping especially in the winter.
- Egypt State Information, Environmental Tourism. http://www.sis.gov.eg/?lang=en-US.
- UNESCO.Retrieved 2006. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1186.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4685389.stm. Africa World Heritage sites named. BBC News 15 July 2005.
- The Encyclopedia of Earth. https://editors.eol.org/eoearth/wiki/Wadi_Al-Hitan...
For more photos about Whale Valley: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stefangeens/sets/721...
© 2017 Eman Abdallah Kamel
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on March 27, 2020:
Thank you, Tiarna, for reading the article and comment. Indeed Whale Valley is an incredible place. I hope you will visit the place someday.
Tiarna Georghiou from Brisbane, Australia on March 26, 2020:
Great article! I would love to explore Whale Valley someday. What an incredible place!
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on June 20, 2019:
You are welcome, Robert.
Robert Sacchi on June 18, 2019:
Thank you for posting.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on June 18, 2019:
Thanks, Robert, for reading the article and commenting. Indeed the Whale Valley is an amazing place and worth exploring.
Robert Sacchi on June 17, 2019:
Wow! This is an amazing place thanks for the information about Whale Valley and the changes that brought it into being.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on March 01, 2019:
Thank you very much, Mr. Holland. Indeed the Whale Valley Reserve is a remarkable place and worth exploring. I always appreciate your visit and comment.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 01, 2019:
Absolutely fascinating! Truly remarkable place, a wonder to see. Thank you for sharing.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 10, 2019:
It is my pleasure, Linda. The Whale Valley Reserve is worth exploring. Thanks so much.
Linda Chechar from Arizona on January 06, 2019:
Whale Valley is an amazing place. It appears environmental tourists are now flocking to the area. Your research is very thorough and extremely interesting.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on September 26, 2018:
Thank you so much, Dora. I appreciate your visit.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 26, 2018:
Thanks for sharing all these interesting scientific facts about Whale Valley. We see a side of Nature that is not very popular but very important in geological and historical studies.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 17, 2018:
Thank you very much Kenna. I hope you will visit whale valley and enjoy your visiting. You are very welcome.
Kenna McHugh from Northern California on January 17, 2018:
A very interesting article, I'd have a long way to travel to see this place. I would like to visit, though.
Eman Abdallah Kamel (author) from Egypt on January 14, 2018:
Thank you very much Mary. You are very welcome.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 14, 2018:
I would love to visit this place. Not the usual tourist trap in Egypt.