In a groundbreaking discovery, Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a river turtle that is believed to have lived more than 70 million years ago. The discovery was made by a team from Cairo University and the New Valley University, in the city of Kharga, located in Egypt’s Western Desert. The almost complete turtle shell is suspected to have belonged to a species that thrived in rivers and freshwater.
Ahmed Abdel Sharif, the esteemed dean of the Faculty of Science at Cairo University, highlighted that the turtle lived during the age of dinosaurs and disclosed that the discovery had been featured in the international Diversity magazine. He further emphasized the significance of Egypt’s Western Desert, stating that it hosts numerous vertebrate fossils that migrated from other African countries to Egypt, which provided the appropriate climatic conditions for their existence.
According to Abdel Sharif, this recent scientific breakthrough is the first of its kind not only in Egypt but also in North Africa. Qarni Ismail Abdel Gawad, an assistant professor of vertebrate paleontology in Cairo University’s geology department, was one of the team members who participated in the excavation. He revealed that the fossil exhibits distinct features that distinguish it from similar fossils found elsewhere in the world. The team worked diligently for three years to unearth this unique find.
Gawad stated that this discovery fills the historical gap between different types of side-necked river turtles that had vanished from the continent of Africa around 70 million years ago, during the Campanian geological period of the Upper Cretaceous era. However, the emergence of this find in southern Egypt has marked a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the reptile’s existence.
The discovery of the fossilized river turtle in Egypt’s Western Desert is an exciting development that sheds light on the continent’s prehistoric past. This groundbreaking discovery will enable scientists to better understand the evolution of turtles and their place in the ecosystem. It also highlights the importance of continued excavation and exploration in the region to uncover more fossils and expand our knowledge of the natural history of the African continent.