Paleontologists in Egypt have discovered a 43-million-year-old fossil of a previously unknown species of whale – with four legs – that could walk on land as well as fish in water.
The newly discovered whale belonged to the Protocetidae, a group of extinct organisms that were part of an evolutionary shift as mammals transitioned from land-dwelling herbivores to sea-dwelling carnivores over a period of ten million years.
The three-meter-long predator was named Phiomycetus anubis after the ancient Egyptian god of death, not only for its supposed hunting abilities, but also because its skull resembled a deity with a jackal’s head.
Reconstruction of what Phiomicetus anubis might look like, by paleontologist Dr. Robert Boessenecker
Weighing around 600kg, its powerful jaw muscles and amphibious abilities would have allowed it to prey on creatures such as crocodiles and small mammals, such as