On the News | Giant Catfish Fossil Found in Egyptian Desert @ National Geographic

On the News @ National Geographic


Giant Catfish Fossil Found in Egyptian Desert


The new fossil was found in Egypt’s wind-sculpted Wadi Al-Hitan, also called the Valley of the Whales.
Credit: Richard Barnes (NG)

“A new species of ancient animal plucked from the sands of Egypt is offering insight into the evolution of one of the most recognizable aquatic groups on Earth: the humble catfish.

Unearthed in Wadi Al-Hitan, a dramatic, forbidding desert southwest of Cairo, the fossil catfish has been named Qarmoutus hitanensis, and it would have lived roughly 37 million years ago.

At about 6.5 feet long, the creature would have been on the upper end of the catfish size scale, coming close to modern-day behemoths like the Mekong giant catfish in Southeast Asia and the Wels catfish in Europe. (At the opposite end of that scale is the tiny parasitic candiru, which is infamous for legends that it can wiggle its way inside people via some uncomfortable places.)

But even though it would be hefty by today’s standards, the Eocene-era creature was just a pint-sized swimmer compared to the valley’s most famous denizens.

The arid landscape of Wadi Al-Hitan, which means Valley of the Whales, was once submerged beneath a vast ocean. Among its wind-sculpted sandstone buttes and cliffs, scientists have unearthed a treasure trove of prehistoric whale bones.” (…) READ MORE

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