Wadi al-Hitan, the Valley of the Whales in Fayoum, some 150km southwest Cairo,
is now home to a museum that is the first of its kind. The Fossils Museum
showcases priceless fossils of the earliest whales, the legged Archaeoceti which are
now extinct, and are considered the link between the whales and reptiles.
An intact, 37-million- year-old skeleton of a legged whale, termed walking whale,
is the centrepiece of the museum display. The 20-metre- long fossil and other
remains of whales at the museum represent how whales evolved into an ocean
mammal from previous land creatures.
The Valley of the Whales has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2005, and
is known to contain fossil remains of the earliest whales.
The Fossils and Climate Change Museum was constructed at a cost of 2 billion
Euros, funded by Italy. The museum is dome-shaped and painted in a sand colour
which blends with the desert landscape that surrounds it. In addition to the fossils,
it displays prehistoric tools used by early humans.
“When you build something somewhere so beautiful and unique, it has to blend in
with its surrounding; otherwise it would be a crime against nature,” the museum’s
architect Gabriel Mikhail said.
29 January 2016