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NextGen Paleontologist: Egypt’s Catfish Hunter Sanaa El-Sayed
“Sometimes, paleontology is about looking forward. Sure, the field is focused on uncovering and understanding the past, but to continue to progress, like every other area of science, paleontology needs a constant influx of new and enthusiastic talent. And as more opportunities open up around the world for both academic studies and fieldwork, from Antarctica to the expansive deserts of Africa, the next generation of paleontologists are blazing new trails.
Here at Dead Things, I’ll be spotlighting these rising stars of the field in an occasional Q&A series, The NextGen Paleontologist. Today’s paleo-to-know: Sanaa El-Sayed, who’s making a splash for her description of an ancient fish from her native Egypt.
Qarmoutus hitanensis is the first catfish to be found at the famous Valley of Whales site, and it’s no small fry. Let’s just say that if you were fishing in the area back when Q. hitanensis was swimming around, some 37 million years ago, you’d need a bigger boat.
El-Sayed, 26, has the distinction of being the first woman vertebrate paleontologist from the Middle East to be first author on a paper published internationally. With her colleagues, this week in PLOS One she described Q. hitanensis, an ancient catfish from Egypt’s famously fossiliferous Wadi Al-Hitan. Also known as The Valley of Whales, or Whale Valley, the UNESCO site contains the earliest known whales and chronicles one of evolution’s biggest plot twists: when some land-based animals said to heck with terrestrialism and headed back to sea.” (…) READ MORE
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