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Whale Valley in Egypt joins UNESCO World Heritage list

Monday, February 11th 2008 - 20:00 UTC
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Wadi Al-Hitan, Whale Valley, in the Western Desert of Egypt, which contains invaluable fossil remains of the earliest, and now extinct, suborder of whales, Archaeoceti received the official document which includes it in the UNESCO World heritage list.

According to the Egyptian news agency the ceremony took place in the province of Al Fayun where the whale valley is located. The Egyptian government was represented by First Lady Suzanne Mubarak. During the ceremony Mrs. Mubarak also inaugurated the "Whale Valley Protectorate", a vast desert area which the Egyptian government has begun to protect from tourism and depredation. The valley to the south west of Cairo not only has whales' fossils but from other marine species confirming that the Sahara at some time was covered by the ocean. Visitors wishing to tour the area must now pay a fee and follow on guided tours. The fossils represent one of the major stories of evolution: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. According to UNESCO the whales' valley is the most important site in the world for the demonstration of this stage of evolution since it vividly portrays the form and life of these whales during their transition. The number, concentration and quality of such fossils in Wadi Al-Hitan is unique, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. The fossils of Al-Hitan show the youngest archaeocetes, in the last stages of losing their hind limbs. Other fossil material in the site makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time.

Categories: Politics, International.

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