These days, whales live in the water; depending on the species, they may jump to grab unsuspecting seals or catch krill. The ancient predecessors of modern whales were considerably more terrifying, even though certain species, such as humpbacks, are thought of as gentle giants. The discovery of a fossilised whale with four legs and a strong jaw that dates back 43 million years was recently reported by a team of Egyptian palaeontologists.
2008 saw the discovery of the ancient whale's fossilised bones in the Egyptian desert's Fayum Depression. The fossils come from between 47.8 and 38 million years ago, during the middle Eocene. The bones came from the creature's ribcage, teeth, jaws, vertebrae, and skull. Based on these, the scientists calculated that the whale was 10 feet long, weighed about 1,300 pounds, and had four legs in addition to a strong, long jaw and sharp teeth. This is the first time an Arab palaeontology team has found, named, and described an extinct whale species. The discovery and its subsequent publication made this possible.
The team examined the specimen in the laboratory of Dr. Hesham Sallam, the study's author and the founder of the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Centre. The name Phiomicetus anubis has been given to the whale. Anubis is a reference to the ancient Egyptian god of embalming and the afterlife, whose jaws resembled those of a jackal.
"I think it was the god of death for most animals that lived alongside it," study lead author Abdullah Gohar told Live Science.
The Anubis whale possessed a terrifying jaw and was almost aquatic. In reality, the earliest whales were terrestrial animals that lived in what is now Pakistan. Eventually, they developed into legless, swimming organisms that could live both on land and in the water. Additionally, they evolved from herbivores to the terrifying Anubis whale, a carnivore. The animal probably consumed fish, crocodiles, and whale calves from other species. Still, they were not immune to attack. Shark teeth marks can be seen on a few of the fossils.
To read the full paper yourself, check out the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.