Community College (LRCCD)

Geology & Earth Science Instructor: Arthur Reed, P.G.



Happy Fossil Friday!

Friday September 17, 2021


Egyptian scientists have published their findings of the fossil of a 4-legged whale found southwest of Cairo in the Egyptian desert.  It was discovered in 2008 but not studied until recently. This helps fill in the gap in understanding how whales evolved from land mammals back to sea creatures (to sea mammals).  One story of this finding is below, along with a couple videos that should help you understand. 



Scientists Discover Fossil of A 4-Legged Whale With A Raptor-Like Eating Style

August 27, 2021


A dolphin jumping out of the water

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A group of scientists have discovered a fossil of a now-extinct whale with four legs. This visual reconstruction shows Phiomicetus anubis preying on a sawfish.

Robert W. Boessenecker


We regret to inform you that your nightmares are about to get worse.

A team led by Egyptian scientists have dug up a 43 million-year-old fossil in the Sahara Desert in Egypt of a now-extinct amphibious four-legged whale.

That's right, folks — a whale with legs.

The authors of the study say that this creature had "unique features of the skull" and that its "mandible suggest a capacity for more efficient oral mechanical processing."



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Discovery location in Egypt


In other words, these walking whales had a "strong raptorial feeding style."

"We discovered how fierce and deadly its powerful jaws are capable of tearing a wide range of prey ... this whale was a god of death to most of the animals that lived in its area," Abdullah Gohar, one of the scientists, told Insider.

The new whale is called Phiomicetus anubis, which the scientists named in part after Anubis, the canine-headed Egyptian god associated with mummification and the afterlife. It was likely a top predator at the time, similar to what a killer whale is today.


A group of men sitting at a table with a skeleton

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Study authors Mohamed Sameh (from left), Abdullah Gohar and Hesham Sallam surround the holotype fossils of the new whale, Phiomicetus anubis, at Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology center.

Abdullah Gohar


Whales, it turns out, used to be "herbivorous, deer-like terrestrial mammals," the scientists write. Over the span of about 10 million years, whales turned into carnivorous creatures in the ocean. The discovery of the four-legged creature is part of that evolution.




One-minute video story by ‘Swarajya’ (a periodical based in India)

Three-minute video by Egyptian researcher Hesham Sellam

Very good eleven-minute video on whale evolution from land to sea (but does not include the discovery of Phiomicetus anubis.








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