Whale, look at the nightmare fuel researchers dug up in Egypt.
ScientistsÂ have unearthed a 43-million-year-old fossil of an extinct four-legged whale that once lived both on land and in the sea, making it amphibious.
This particular ancient species was previously unknown to experts, but itâ€™s part of a group of semiaquatic whales called protocetids, which existed during the Eocene period, according to findings published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Since protocetids were amphibious, they represent a unique period in whale evolution that largely still remains a mystery.
But the researchers behind the studyÂ believe the newly discovered fossil offers clues as to how whales transformed from land dwellers to the sea creatures we know today.
â€œAll known protocetid whales had well-developed, non-reduced fore and hind limbs that could bear the animalsâ€™ weight outside of water, albeit probably awkwardly, as these animals were probably quite heavy,â€ Robert W. Boessenecker, co-author of the study, told HuffPost. â€œThink of seals and sea lions, for example.â€
What sets this four-legged creature apart from other protocetid whales is an impressively murderous, jackal-like jaw that allowed it to have a â€œraptorial feeding style,â€ according to the study. The researchers, who analyzed the fossil at Mansoura University, named the species â€œPhiomectus anubisâ€ after Anubis, the jackal-headed Egyptian god of death.
â€œWe discovered how fierce and deadly its powerful jaws are capable of tearing a wide range of prey … this whale was a god of death to most of the animals that lived in its area,â€ Abdullah Gohar, lead author of the paper,Â told Insider.
Despite how terrifying this carnivorous lord of demise may sound, the report said itâ€™s only a â€œmedium-sizedâ€ protocetid, which translates to about 10 feet in length and a weight of around 1,300 pounds.
The fossil was found in the Fayum Depression in Egyptâ€™s Western Desert, which was once submerged underwater. German paleontologist Eberhard FraasÂ dug up some of the first protocetids in the region in the early 1900s, and many others have been discovered there since.
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