Egyptian dinosaur and whale discoveries

Dinosaur bones discovered in 1977 in the Kharga Oasis have recently been identified as a species of herbivorous dinosaur new to science. The remains, which included vertebrae and limb, pelvis, and shoulder bones, date to about 75 million years ago, and belong to a titanosaur measuring around 10 to 15 metres in length. As the bones were left in storage in various German institutes before being ‘rediscovered’ in July, the new animal has been named Igai semkhu – which in ancient Egyptian means ‘Forgotten Lord of the Oasis’.

Another ancient animal, found in 2012 in the limestone rocks of the Fayum Depression, has also been recently identified. The fossilised remains, dating to about 41 million years ago, included the skull, jaw, teeth, and fragments of vertebrae from an unknown species of whale. Researchers at Mansoura University and the American University in Cairo have named it Tutcetus rayanensis after the pharaoh Tutankhamun. The whale measured just under 2.5 metres in length, and weighed 187 kg.


A sketch of the Igai semkhu dinosaur from the Kharga Oasis. Image: SpinoDragon145, CC BY 4.0 via Wikicommons
Tutcetus rayanensis, the newly identified species of prehistoric whale found in the Fayum and named after Tutankhamun. Image: Hesham