Wadi El Hitan

A Scientific Visit to Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt

By: Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa

زيارة عِلمية إلى وادي الحيتان في الفيوم ، الصحراء الغربية ، مصر

بقلم : أ. د. نورمان علي بسام علي طاهر خلف اليافاوي

Article Reference : Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2016). A Scientific Visit to Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin (ISSN 0178 – 6288). Number 134, February 2016, pp. 1-44. Sharjah and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. http://cetacea.webs.com/wadi-el-hitan

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7560556296/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7566373662/

I visited Wadi El-Hitan (Valley of the Whales) at Wadi Al-Rayyan in Al-Fayyum Governorate, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert) in Egypt, accompanied with my beloved wife Ola Mostafa Khalaf and my beloved daughter Nora Norman Ali Khalaf on Wednesday 11th July 2012. 


We saw and studied some Whale fossils which belong to the Whale species Basilosaurus isis and Dorudon atrox; Shark teeth, the Short-toothed Sawfish, Nummulites and the Teredo shipworm burrow fossils.

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil (Lower Jaw, Ribs and Vertebrae) at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15466930031/

Studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil (Lower Jaw, Ribs and Vertebrae) at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15283569338/

Wadi El-Hitan (Arabic: وادي الحيتان‎, "Whales Valley") is a paleontological site in the Al-Fayyum Governorate of Egypt, some 150 km southwest of Cairo. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005 for its hundreds of fossils of some of the earliest forms of whale, the archaeoceti (a now extinct sub-order of whales). The site reveals evidence for the explanation of one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. This is why it was added by the UNESCO to the list of protected World Heritage sites (Wikipedia). 


The fossils found at the site may not be the oldest but their great concentration in the area and the degree of their preservation is to the extent that even some stomach contents are intact. The presence of fossils of other early animals such as sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, turtles and rays found at Wadi El-Hitan makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time, adding to its justification to be cited as a Heritage site (Wikipedia).


The first fossil skeletons of whales were discovered in the winter of 1902-3. For the next 80 years they attracted relatively little interest, largely due to the difficulty of reaching the area. In the 1980s interest in the site resumed as four wheel drive vehicles became more readily available. Continuing interest coincided with the site being visited by fossil collectors, and many bones were removed, prompting calls for the site to be conserved. The remains display the typical streamlined body form of modern whales, yet retaining some of the primitive aspects of skull and tooth structure. The largest skeleton found reached up to 21 m in length, with well-developed five-fingered flippers on the forelimbs and the unexpected presence of hind legs, feet, and toes, not known previously in any archaeoceti. Their form was serpentine and they were carnivorous. A few of these skeletal remains are exposed but most are shallowly buried in sediments, slowly uncovered by erosion. Wadi El-Hitan provides evidences of millions of years of coastal marine life (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15470456305/

Studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15447445796/

Fossils

Fossils are present in high numbers and often show excellent quality of preservation. The most conspicuous fossils are the skeletons and bones of whales and sea cows, and over several hundred fossils of these have been documented. The fossils of whales vary from single bones to entire skeletons, and a number of partial skeletons are currently on display in the public part of the park. The two common whales are the large Basilosaurus, and the smaller (3 to 5 metre) Dorudon. At least two other species are known from rarer remains. The whales possess small hind limbs that are not seen in modern whales, and a powerful skull with teeth similar to those of carnivorous land mammals. Other mammals are represented by the skeletons of three species of sirenia or sea cows. These were fully marine animals like the whales, and likewise show primitive features not seen in modern species and possess teeth that suggest that they grazed on seagrasses and other marine plants. Bones of the primitive elephant Moeritherium have also been recorded. Fossil reptiles are represented by fossils of crocodiles and sea turtles, and bones of sea snakes have also been recorded. There are many species of bony fish, sharks and rays represented, but most of the fossils are isolated small teeth and these are not often conspicuous. Larger fish fossils include the rostra and pegs of sawfish; a sawfish rostrum of 1.8 metres long is laid out in the park. Fossil shells are not common in the main whale-bearing rocks, but are very common in other rocks; many fallen rocks can be seen to be full of a wide variety of fossil shells. Disc-shaped nummulite fossils are common in places, and often coat the desert floor. A large log is present in the park, and this is full of tubular shipworm fossils. Some fossil seagrasses are also known (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15470502892/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15470898485/

Basilosaurus :


Basilosaurus ("king lizard") is a genus of early whale that lived 40 to 34 million years ago in the Late Eocene. The first fossil of B. cetoides was discovered in the United States and was initially believed to be some sort of reptile, hence the suffix -"saurus", but it was later found to be a marine mammal. Richard Owen wished to rename the creature Zeuglodon ("yoked tooth"), but, per taxonomic rules, the creature's first name remained permanent. Fossils of Basilosaurus isis have been found in Egypt and JordanBasilosaurus drazindai was described based on a single vertebra found in Pakistan (Wikipedia).


Anatomy

Measuring 12–20 m (40–65 ft), Basilosaurus cetoides is the largest known ocean animal of the Late Eocene. B. isis is slightly smaller than B. cetoides (Wikipedia).


Cranium

The dental formula for Basilosaurus isis is 3.1.4.2 (Upper) and 3.1.4.3 (Lower). The upper and lower molars and second to fourth premolars are double rooted and high-crowned (Wikipedia). The head of Basilosaurus did not have room for a melon like modern day toothed whales, and the brain was smaller in comparison as well. It is believed that they therefore did not have the social capabilities of modern whales (Wikipedia). Fahlke et al. (2011) concluded that the skull of Basilosaurus is asymmetrical like in modern toothed whales, and not, as previously assumed, symmetrical like in baleen whales and artiodactyls closely related to cetaceans. In modern toothed whale this asymmetry is associated with high-frequency sound production and echolocation, neither of which is thought to be present in Basilosaurus. This cranial torsion probably evolved in protocetids and basilosaurids together with directional underwater hearing and the sound receiving apparatus in the mandible (the auditory fat pad and the pan bone (thin portion of mandible). In the Basilosaur skull, the inner and middle ear are enclosed by a dense tympanic bulla. The synapomorphic cetacean air sinus system is partially present in basilosaurids, including the pterygoid, peribullary, maxillary, and frontal sinuses. The periotic bone, which surrounds the inner ear, is partially isolated. The mandibular canal is large and laterally flanked by a thin bony wall, the pan bone or acoustic fenestra. These features enabled Basilosaurs to hear directionally in water (Wikipedia). The ear of basilosaurids is more derived than those in earlier archaeocetes, such as remingtonocetids and protocetids, in the acoustic isolation provided by the air-filled sinuses inserted between the ear and the skull. The basilosaurid ear did, however, have a large external auditory meatus, strongly reduced in modern cetaceans, but, even-though this was probably functional, it can have been of little use under water (Wikipedia).

Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Egypt. Photo: Ola Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15288275340/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15289802069/

Spine

No complete Basilosaurus skeleton is known, but several attempts have been made to reconstruct the vertebral column from partial skeletons. Kellogg (1936) estimated a total of 58 vertebrae, based on two partial and non-overlapping skeletons of B. cetoides from Alabama. More complete fossils uncovered in Egypt in the 1990s, allowed a more accurate estimation: the vertebral column of B. isis has been reconstructed from three overlapping skeletons to a total of 70 vertebrae with a vertebral formula interpreted as 7 cervical, 18 thoracic, 20 lumbar and sacral, and 25 caudal vertebrae. It can be assumed that the vertebral formula of B. cetoides is the same (Wikipedia).


Basilosaurus has an anguilliform (eel-like) body shape because of the elongation of the centra of the thoracic through anterior caudal vertebrae. In life, these vertebrae were filled with marrow, and, because of the enlarged size, this made them buoyant. From this it can be deduced that Basilosaurus swam predominantly in two dimensions at the sea surface, in contrast to the smaller Dorudon which was probably a diving, three-dimensional swimmer. The skeletal anatomy of the tail suggests that a small fluke was probably present, which would have aided only vertical motion. Most reconstructions show a small, speculative dorsal fin similar to a rorqual whales, but other reconstructions show a dorsal ridge (Wikipedia).


Hind Limbs

A 16 m (52 feet) individual of Basilosaurus isis had 35 cm (14 in) long hind limbs with fused tarsals and only three digits. The limited size of the limb and the absence of an articulation with the sacral vertebrae, makes a locomotory function unlikely. Analysis has shown that the reduced limbs could rapidly adduct between only two positions (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15473546661/

Prof. Khalaf studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan, Egypt. Photo: Ola Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15477851172/

Behaviour :


Locomotion

It is also believed that Basilosaurus relied on unusual modes of locomotion, relative to other cetaceans; similarly sized thoracic, lumbar, sacral and caudal vertebrae imply that it moved in an anguilliform (eel-like) fashion, but predominantly in the vertical plane. Paleontologist Philip D. Gingerich theorized that Basilosaurus may also have moved in a very odd, horizontal anguilliform fashion to some degree, something completely unknown in modern cetaceans. The vertebrae appear to have been hollow, and it is likely that they were also fluid-filled. This would imply that Basilosaurus typically functioned in only two dimensions at the ocean surface, compared with the three-dimensional habits of most other cetaceans. Judging from the relatively weak axial musculature and the thick bones in the limbs, Basilosaurus is not believed to have been capable of sustained swimming or deep diving. It is also believed that it was incapable of terrestrial locomotion (Wikipedia).


Feeding

The cheek teeth of Basilosaurus retain a complex morphology and functional occlusion. Heavy wear on the teeth reveals that food was first chewed then swallowed (Wikipedia).

Analyses of the stomach contents of B. cetoides has shown that this species fed exclusively on fishes and sharks, while bite marks on the skulls of juvenile Dorudon have been matched with the dentition of B. isis, suggesting a dietary difference between the two species, similar to that found in different populations of modern killer whales (Wikipedia).

Studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15291644740/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15291521819/

Taxonomic History of Basilosaurus isis

German botanist Georg August Schweinfurth discovered the first archaeocete whale in Egypt (Zeuglodon osiris, now Saghacetus osiris) in 1879. He visited the Qasr el-Sagha Formation in 1884 and 1886 and missed the now famous Zeuglodon Valley with a few kilometers. German paleontologist Wilhelm Barnim Dames described the material, including the type specimen of Zeuglodon osiris, a well-preserved dentary (Wikipedia). 

Hugh Beadnell, head of the Geological Survey of Egypt 1896–1906, named and described Zeuglodon isis in Andrews (1904) based on a partial mandible and several vertebrae from Wadi Al-Hitan in Egypt. Andrews (1906) described a skull and some vertebrae of a smaller archaeocete and named it Prozeuglodon atrox (=Dorudon atrox). Kellogg (1936) discovered deciduous teeth in this skull and it was then believed to be a juvenile [Pro]zeuglodon isis for decades before more complete fossils of mature Dorudon were discovered (Wikipedia).


In the 1980s, Elwyn Simons and Philip D. Gingerich started to excavate at Qasr el-Sagha and Wadi Al-Hitan with the hope of finding material that could match archaeocete fossils from Pakistan. Since then over 500 archaeocete skeletons have been found at these two locations, of which most are B. isis or D. atrox, several of the latter carrying bite marks assumed to be from the former. Gingerich, Smith & Simons (1990) described additional fossils including foot bones and speculated that the reduced hind limbs were used as copulatory guides (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15478579385/

Studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15478267262/

Studying a Basilosaurus isis Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15455578166/

Dorudon :


Dorudon ("Spear-Tooth") is a genus of extinct basilosaurid ancient whales that lived alongside Basilosaurus 40.4 to 33.9 million years ago, in the Eocene. They were about 5 m (16 feet) long and fed on small fish and mollusksDorudon lived in warm seas around the world. Fossils have been found along the former shorelines of the Tethys Sea in present-day Egypt and Pakistan, as well as in the United States, New Zealand, and Western Sahara (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7568459556/

Studying a Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15292228860/

Taxonomic History

Gibbes (1845) described Dorudon serratus based on a fragmentary maxilla and a few teeth found in South Carolina. He concluded that the teeth must have belonged to a mammal since they were two-rooted, that they must have been teeth from a juvenile since they were hollow, and also noted their similarity to the teeth then described for Zeuglodon (=Basilosaurus). When exploring the type locality, Gibbes discovered a lower jaw and twelve caudal vertebrae, which he felt obliged to assign to Zeuglodon together with his original material. Gibbes concluded that Dorudon were juvenile Zeuglodon and consequently withdrew his new genus. He did however allow Louis Agassiz at Harvard to examine his specimens, and the Swiss professor replied that these were neither teeth of a juvenile nor those of Zeuglodon, but of a separate genus just as Gibbes had first proposed (Wikipedia).


Andrews (1906) described Prozeuglodon atrox (="Proto-Basilosaurus") based on a nearly complete skull, a dentary, and three associated vertebrae presented to him by the Geological Museum of Cairo. Kellogg (1936), however, realized that Andrews' specimen was a juvenile, and, he assumed, the same species as Zeuglodon isis, described by Andrews (1906). Kellogg also realized that the generic name Zeuglodon was invalid and therefore recombined it Prozeuglodon isis. Since then many specimens have been referred to Prozeuglodon atrox, including virtually every part of the skeleton, and it has become obvious that it is a separate genus, not a juvenile "Proto-Zeuglodon". Kellogg placed several of the species of Zeuglodon described from Egypt in the early 20th century (including Z. osirisZ. zitteliZ. elliotsmithii, and Z. sensitivius) in the genus DorudonGingerich (1992) synonymized these four species and grouped them as Saghacetus Osiris (Wikipedia).

The current taxonomic status of Dorudon is based on Uhen’s (2004) revision of Dorudon and detailed description of D. atrox. Before this, the taxonomy of Dorudon was in disarray and based on a limited set of specimens (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15479060765/

Studying a Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15292450010/

Dorudon atrox is known from Egypt, D. serratus from Georgia and South Carolina in the United States. The type species D. serratus was, and still is, based solely on two partial maxillae with a few teeth, cranial fragments, and a dozen vertebrae with some additional material, collected but not described by Gibbes, and referred to the type species. Before Uhen (2004), Dorudon atrox was based solely on Andrews’s holotype skull, lower jaw, and the vertebrae he referred to it, but is now the best known archaeocete species (Wikipedia).


The two species of Dorudon differ from other members of Dorudontinae mainly in size: they are considerably larger than Saghacetus and slightly larger than Zygorhiza, but also differ from both these genera in dental and/or cranial morphology. The limited known material for D. serratus makes it difficult to compare the two species of DorudonUhen (2004) placed D. atrox in the same genus as D. serratus because of similarities in size and morphology, but kept them as separate species because of differences in dental morphology. Even-though D. serratus is the type species, the description of Dorudon is largely based on Dorudon atrox because of its completeness. The cranial morphology of D. atrox makes it distinct from all other archaeocetes (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying a Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15476055881/

Description :

Dorudontines were originally believed to be juvenile individuals of Basilosaurus as their fossils are similar but smaller. They have since been shown to be a different genus with the discovery of Dorudon juveniles. Although they look very much like modern whales, basilosaurines and dorudontines lacked the 'melon organ' that allows their descendants to use echolocation as effectively as modern whales. Like other basilosaurids, their nostrils were midway from the snout to the top of the head. The Dorudon calves may have fallen prey to hungry Basilosaurus, as shown by unhealed bite marks on the skulls of some juvenile Dorudon (Wikipedia).

The Sign of Dorudon atrox Whale Fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15292820287/

Dentition

The dental formula for Dorudon atrox is 3.1.4.2 (Upper) and 3.1.4.3 (Lower) (Wikipedia).

Typical for cetaceans, the upper incisors are aligned with the cheek teeth, and, except the small I1, separated by large diastemata containing pits into which the lower incisors fit. The upper incisors are simple conical teeth with a single root, lacking accessory denticles, and difficult to distinguish from lower incisors. The upper incisors are missing in most specimens and are only known from two specimens. The upper canine is a little larger than the upper incisors, and, like them, directed slightly buccally and mesially (Wikipedia).


P1, only preserved in a single specimen, is the only single-rooted upper premolar. Apparently, P1 is conical, smaller than the remaining premolars and lacks accessory denticles. P2 is the largest upper tooth and the first in the upper row with large accessory denticles. Like the more posterior premolars, it is buccolingually compressed and double-rooted. It has a dominant central protocone flanked by denticles that decrease in size mesially and distally, resulting in a tooth with a triangular profile. P3 is similar to but slightly smaller than P2, except that it has a projection on the lingual side which is the remnant of a third root. In P4, smaller than P2–3, the larger distal root is formed by the fusion of two roots (Wikipedia). The upper molars extend onto the zygomatic arch and are considerably smaller than their neighbouring premolars. Like P4, their distal root is wider than the mesial and formed by the fusion of two roots. The profiles of the molars are more rounded than those of the premolars (Wikipedia).

Similar to the upper incisors, the lower incisors are simple conical teeth curved distally and aligned with the cheek teeth. I1, the smallest tooth, is sitting on the anterior-most portion of the dentary, with its alveolus left open towards the mandibular symphysis and located as close to the alveolus of I2 as it can. I2, I3, and C1 are very similar, considerably larger than I1 (Wikipedia). The lower premolars are double-rooted, buccolingually compressed teeth, except the deciduous P1 which is single-rooted. P3 is the second largest cheek tooth, P4 the largest; both are very similar, dominated by the central cusp (Wikipedia).

In the lower molars the accessory denticles on the mesial edges are replaced by a deep groove called the reentrant groove. The apical cusp is the primitive protoconid. M2 and M3 are morphologically very similar. M3 is sitting high on the ascending mandibular ramus (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa and his beloved wife Ola Mostafa Khalaf and his beloved daughter Nora Norman Ali Khalaf are standing near the fossil skeleton of the Whale Dorudon atrox at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15297854928/

Sawfish


Sawfishes, also known as carpenter sharks, are a family (Pristidae) of rays characterized by a long, narrow, flattened rostrum, or nose extension, lined with sharp transverse teeth, arranged so as to resemble a saw. Several species of sawfishes can grow to about 7 m (23 feet). The family as a whole is largely unknown and little studied. The Pristidae are the only living family within the order Pristiformes, whose name comes from the Ancient Greek: πρίστης prístēs “saw, sawyer” (Wikipedia). Sawfishes should not be confused with sawsharks (order Pristiophoriformes), which have a similar appearance (Wikipedia). All species of sawfishes are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN, and face the threat of extinction as a result of habitat loss and overfishing. Global populations of every species of sawfishes are estimated to have fallen to less than 10% of their historic levels. The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), for example, was once widely distributed, but available data indicate the range of this species has been reduced by about 90%, and population numbers have declined dramatically, perhaps by 95% or more. International commerce of sawfishes has been banned globally since 2007, with the only exception being for the provision of live Pristis microdon to appropriate public aquaria for primarily conservation purposes (Wikipedia).

The Rostrum fossil of the Short-toothed Sawfish at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15298026687/

Description

The sawfish's most distinctive feature is the saw-like rostrum, covered with electro-sensitive pores that allow the sawfish to detect slight movements of prey hiding in the muddy sea floor. The rostrum also serves as a digging tool to unearth buried crustaceans. Should suitable prey try to swim past, the normally lethargic sawfish springs from the bottom and slashes at it with its saw. This generally stuns or impales the prey sufficiently for the sawfish to devour it. Sawfish also defend themselves with their rostrum against intruding divers and predators such as sharks. The "teeth" protruding from the rostrum are not real teeth, but modified tooth-like structures called denticles (Wikipedia).

The body and head of a sawfish are flat, and they spend most of their time lying on the sea floor. Like rays, a sawfish's mouth and nostrils are on its flat underside. The mouth is lined with small, dome-shaped teeth for eating small fish and crustaceans; sometimes the fish swallows them whole. Sawfish breathe with two spiracles just behind the eyes that draw water to the gills. The skin is covered with tiny dermal denticles that give the fish a rough texture. Sawfish are usually light grey or brown; the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, appears olive green (Wikipedia).

Like other elasmobranchs, sawfish lack a swim bladder and use a large, oil-filled liver to control buoyancy. Their skeleton is made of cartilage (Wikipedia).

The eyes of the sawfish are underdeveloped due to their muddy habitats. The rostrum is the main sensory device (Wikipedia).

Their small intestines contain an internal partition shaped like a corkscrew, called a spiral valve, which increases the surface area available for food absorption (Wikipedia).

The smallest sawfish is the dwarf sawfish (P. clavata), which grows to 1.4 m (4.6 feet), much smaller than the others. The largest species seem to be the large-tooth sawfish (P. microdon), the Leichhardt's sawfish (P. perotteti), and the common sawfish (P. pristis), which can all reach about 7 m (23 ft) in length. One southern sawfish was recorded as weighing 2,455 kg (5,412 lb). Such massive specimens that survive long enough to approach their maximum size and age are believed to have lifespans of about 51 years (Wikipedia).

The sign of the Short-toothed Sawfish fossil at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15484622175/

Taxonomy and Species

The taxonomy of the sawfish family Pristidae has been described as chaotic, with uncertainty as to the true number of valid species. It contains two genera grouped by similar visual characteristics. The genus Anoxypristis contains one species (A. cuspidata) and the genus Pristis contains from four to six species. Pristis has been divided into two groups, commonly referred to as smalltooths and largetooths (Wikipedia).

Smalltooths: The Pristis pectinata species complex (P. clavataP. pectinata and P. zijsron).

Largetooths: the Pristis pristis species complex (P. microdonP. perotteti and P. pristis) is in need of in-depth taxonomic review. It is possible, for example, that P. microdon and P. perottetimay not be distinct species, but may rather be subspecies, or perhaps geographically distinct subpopulations of a single circumtropical species (Wikipedia).

Culture Perception

Sawfish are a powerful symbol in many cultures. The Aztecs revered sawfish as an "earth monster". Its rostrum is used by some Asian shamans for exorcisms and other ceremonies to repel demons and disease, which has contributed to its decline. The sawfish also notably served as the emblem of the German submarine U-96 (1940), known for its portrayal in “Das Boot”, and was later the symbol of the 9th U-Boat Flotilla. The German World War II Kampfabzeichen der Kleinkampfverbände (Battle Badge of Small Combat Units) depicted a sawfish. These units used midget submarines, manned torpedoes, and explosive boats.

In cartoons and humorous popular culture, the sawfish—particularly its nose—has been employed as a sort of living tool. Examples of this can be found in “Vicke Viking” and “Fighting Fantasy volume "Demons of the Deep" (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the Rostrum fossil of the Short-toothed Sawfish at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15298042618/

Nummulite


nummulite is a large lenticular fossil, characterized by its numerous coils, subdivided by septa into chambers. They are the shells of the fossil and present-day marine protozoan Nummulites, a type of foraminiferan. Nummulites commonly vary in diameter from 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) to 5 cm (2 inches) and are common in Eocene to Miocene marine rocks, particularly around southwest Asia and the Mediterranean (e.g. Eocene limestones from Egypt). Fossils up to 6 inches wide are found in the Middle Eocene rocks of Turkey. They are valuable as index fossils (Wikipedia).

The ancient Egyptians used nummulite shells as coins and the pyramids were constructed using limestone that contained nummulites. It is not surprising then that the name "Nummulites" is a diminutive form of the Latin nummulus meaning "little coin", a reference to their shape (Wikipedia).

In 1913, naturalist Randolph Kirkpatrick published a book, “The Nummulosphere: an account of the Organic Origin of so-called Igneous Rocks and Abyssal Red Clays”, proposing the unconventional theory that all rocks had been produced through the accumulation of forams such as Nummulites (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the Nummulite fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15306802850/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the Nummulite fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15306630049/

Geology

The geology of the Whales Valley gives rise to the scenery, with wind and water erosion producing spectacular cliffs and buttes. The rocks present at Wadi El-Hitan are all Middle to Late Eocene in age and comprise three main rock units. The Gehannam Formation comprises open marine mudstones, which are largely present on the flatter ground to the East of the public park. The rock unit that contains most of the whale fossils is the Birket Qarun Formation. This comprises yellowish open marine sandstones that form most of the cliffs and buttes. The monotony of these sandstones is broken by a white layer full of well-preserved animal burrows (previously thought to be mangrove roots) and a layer of black mudstone above that. When the cliffs of the Birket Qarun Formation are followed to the East, they are replaced by Gehannam Formation mudstones, indicating a change in water depth from shallower to deeper in that direction. The tops of the higher cliffs are within the Qasr el-Sagha Formation, which comprises dark mudstones alternating with limestones full of shells and represents a lagoonal environment (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Photo: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. 11.07.2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15306932618/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15443179416/

Wildlife

Wadi El-Hitan, is also home to 15 species of desert plants, sand dunes and about 15 types of wild mammals including the north African jackalred foxEgyptian mongoose, African wildcat, and dorcas gazelleFennec foxes are the most commonly seen mammal and regularly visit the camp site at night. Also, attracted by the lakes at Wadi El-Rayyan are recorded 19 species of reptiles and 36 species of breeding birds (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15493317742/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15306806359/

Tourism

Only about 1,000 visitors a year drive into Wadi El-Hitan by 4WD because the track is unpaved and crosses unmarked desert sands. For the most part, visitors to Wadi El-Hitan are foreigners, who usually camp in the valley on winter weekends. Because Wadi El-Hitan is within the Wadi El-Rayyan Protected Area, the same protection management plan restricts visitors to prearranged guided tours along a prescribed trail. Sustainable tourism is beginning to develop and grow in the area, and the 4WD are alternatively being replaced by foot or camel treks. Since part of Wadi El-Hitan was made into a tourist venue, walkways between the main fossils were laid out and small shelters built. This public park is now regularly visited by tourist groups; and a small camp site is present (Wikipedia).


The valley is located behind a mountain, known as Garet Gohannam; Gara (Arabic: قارة) means hill or mountain and Garet Gohannam means the mountain of hell. In the light of the setting sun, the mountain seems ablaze with an eerie red light (Wikipedia).


The Egyptian government has alleged that in July 2007 a pair of cars driven by Belgian diplomats entered a protected zone in this area, and caused 325,000 dollars’ worth of damage. The Belgium government has said no damage was caused by its diplomats. The issue remains unresolved (Wikipedia).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan, Egypt. Photo: Ola Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15307088778/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15493771865/

References and Internet Websites


Andrews, C. W. (1904). Further notes on the mammals of the Eocene of Egypt. Part III. Geological Magazine. 5 (London) 1: 211–215. 

Andrews, C. W. (1906). A descriptive catalogue of the Tertiary Vertebrata of the Fayûm, Egypt. British Museum (Natural History) (London). 

Fahlke, Julia M.; Gingerich, Philip D.; Welsh, Robert C.; Wood, Aaron R. (2011). Cranial asymmetry in Eocene archaeocete whales and the evolution of directional hearing in water. PNAS 108 (35): 14545–14548. 

Gibbes, Robert Wilson (1845). Description of the teeth of a new fossil animal found in the Green Sand of South Carolina. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2 (9): 254–256. 

Gibbes, Robert Wilson (1847). On the fossil genus Basilosaurus, Harlan, (Zeuglodon, Owen,) with a notice of specimens from the Eocene Green Sand of South Carolina. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1.


Gingerich, P. D. (1992). Marine Mammals (Cetacean and Sirenia) from the Eocene of Gebel Mokattam and Fayum, Egypt: Stratigraphy, Age, and Paleoenvironments. University of Michigan Papers on Paleontology 30: 1–84. 

Gingerich, P. D. (1998). Paleobiological Perspectives on Mesonychia, Archaeoceti, and the Origin of Whales. In Thewissen, J. G. M. The Emergence of Whales: Evolutionary Patterns in the Origin of Cetacea. Advances in Vertebrate Paleobiology 1. Springer. pp. 424–439. ISBN 9780306458538

Gingerich, P. D. (2007). Early evolution of whales: a century of research in Egypt. In Fleagle, J. G.; Gilbert, Christopher C. Elwyn Simons: A Search for Origins. New York: Springer. pp. 107–124. ISBN 978-0-387-73896-3

Gingerich, P. D.; Arif, M; Bhatti, M Akram; Anwar, M; Sanders, William J (1997). Basilosaurus drazindai and Basiloterus hussaini, New Archaeoceti (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Middle Eocene Drazinda Formation, with a Revised Interpretation of Ages of Whale-Bearing Strata in the Kirthar Group of the Sulaiman Range, Punjab (Pakistan). Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan 30 (2): 55–81.


Gingerich, Philip D.; Smith, B. Holly; Simons, Elwyn L. (1990). Hind Limbs of Eocene Basilosaurus: Evidence of Feet in Whales. Science 249 (4965): 154–157. 

Gingerich, P. D.; Uhen, Mark D. (1998). Likelihood estimation of the time of origin of Cetacea and the time of divergence of Cetacea and Artiodactyla. Palaeontologia Electronica 1 (2): 1–45. Retrieved September 2013. 

Kellogg, R. (1936). A review of the Archaeoceti Washington: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15314720479/

Khalaf, Norman Ali Bassam (1980). Tabie’t Al-Talawon fi Al-Haywanat (The Colouration of Animals). Al-Biology Bulletin. Number 1. January 1980, Safar 1401. Biological Society, Kuwait University, State of Kuwait. pp. 4-5. (in Arabic). 

Khalaf, Norman (1982). A’maar Al-Haywanat (Animal Ages). Al-Biology Bulletin. Number 18, Third Year, First Semester, Saturday 6.11.1982. Biological Society, Kuwait University, State of Kuwait. pp. 7. (in Arabic). 

Khalaf, Norman Ali Bassam (1987). Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus) from the State of Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Federal Republic of Germany. Number 14, Fifth Year, Shawal 1407 AH, June 1987 AD. pp. 1-14. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam (1992). The Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, Germany. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Federal Republic of Germany. Number 26, Tenth Year, January 1992. pp. 1-3. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam (1992). An Introduction to the Animal Life in Palestine. Gazelle. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Federal Republic of Germany. Number 30, Tenth Year, October 1992. pp. 1-7. (in Arabic). 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam (1994). An Introduction to the Animal Life in Palestine. Shqae’q Al-Nouma’n (Anemone coronaria). A Quarterly Magazine Issued by the Program EAI (Education for Awareness and for Involvement). Environmental Education / Children for Nature Protection. In Cooperation with Dept. of General and Higher Education. P.L.O., Palestine. Number 4. Huzairan (June) 1994. pp. 16-21. (in Arabic).

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15478492426/

Khalaf, Norman Ali Bassam (Gründer) (seit Juni 2001). Wale und Delphine Club Yahoo Group. http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Waleunddelphine/ 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2004). Gazelle: Das Palästinensische Biologische Bulletin. Eine Wissenschaftliche Reise in Palästina, Arabien und Europa zwischen 1983 – 2004 / Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. A Scientific Journey in Palestine, Arabia and Europe between 1983 – 2004. ISBN 3-00-014121-9. Erste Auflage, Juli 2004: 452 Seiten. Zweite erweiterte Auflage, August 2004: 460 Seiten. Norman Ali Khalaf, Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/ 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2004). Die Wal Sonderausstellung "Delphinidae Delphionidae" und "Kleinwale in Nord- und Ostsee" im Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn, Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Federal Republic of Germany. Number 35, Twenty-second Year, September 2004. pp. 1.
Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2004). Der Schweinswal (Phocoena phocoena) in der Nord- und Ostsee...The Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Federal Republic of Germany. Number 36, Twenty-second Year, October 2004. pp. 1-7.
Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2005). Thema des Tages (5. Januar 2005): In See gespülter Indopazifischer Buckeldelfin (Sousa chinensis) in Thailand nach Tagen gerettet. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Number 37, Twenty-third Year, January 2005. pp. 1-3. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2005). The Story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah) and the Whale. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Number 38, Twenty-third Year, February 2005. pp. 9-13. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2005). Jaffa (Yaffa): The History of an Old Palestinian Arab City on the Mediterranean Sea. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Number 39, Twenty-third Year, March 2005. pp. 7-8.
Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2005). The Andromeda Sea Monster of Jaffa. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Number 39, Twenty-third Year, March 2005. pp. 8. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2005). Aquatica Arabica. An Aquatic Scientific Journey in Palestine, Arabia and Europe between 1980 - 2005. / Aquatica Arabica. Eine Aquatische Wissenschaftliche Reise in Palaestina, Arabien und Europa zwischen 1980 - 2005. ISBN 3-00-014835-3. Erste Auflage, August 2005: 376 Seiten. Publisher: Norman Ali Khalaf, Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Bundesrepublik Deutschland & Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/aquaticaarabica.htm
Khalaf, Norman Ali (Co-Author) (2005, 2006). Chapter 3: Geography, Flora and Fauna. Pages 32-39. in: Palestine: A Guide. By Mariam Shahin, Photography by George Azar. Co-Author: Norman Ali Khalaf. Northampton, Massachusetts: Interlink Publishing Group, 2005, 2006. xi + 471 pages. Appendices to page 500. 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2006). A Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni) Stranding on Al Mamzar Beach, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 50. February 2006. pp. 1-5. https://de.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Quastenflosser/conversations/messages/22 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Norman Ali (2006). Mammalia Arabica. Eine Zoologische Reise in Palästina, Arabien und Europa zwischen 1980-2006. / Mammalia Arabica. A Zoological Journey in Palestine, Arabia and Europe between 1980-2006. ISBN 3-00-017294-7. Erste Auflage, Juli 2006, 484 pp. Publisher: Norman Ali Khalaf, Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Deutschland & Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/mammaliaarabica.htm 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Haywanat Filistin (Fauna of Palestine). In: Wikipedia-Arabic, Al-Mawsu'a Al-Hurra (The Free Encyclopedia). Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 69, September 2007, Sha’ban 1428 AH. pp. 1-4. (Article in Arabic). http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%AD%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA_%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2008). Cetacea Palaestina: The Whales and Dolphins in Palestinian Waters. Cetacean Species Guide for Palestine. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 83, November 2008, Thu Al-Qi’ada 1429 AH. pp. 1-14. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://cetacea-palaestina.webs.com/ 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dr. Norman Ali Bassam (2009). Fauna Palaestina – Part One. A Zoological Journey in Palestine, Arabia and Europe between 1983 – 2006 / Fauna Palaestina – Teil Eins. Eine Zoologische Reise in Palästina, Arabien und Europa zwischen 1983 – 2006. ISBN 978-9948-03-865-8. Erste Auflage/First Edition, September 2009: 412 Seiten/Pages. Self Publisher: Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates & Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Bundesrepublik Deutschland. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/faunapalaestinapart1.htm 

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15314989888/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15498503771/

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2010). Fauna Emiratus - Part One. Zoological Studies in the United Arab Emirates between 2004 - 2009. / Fauna Emiratus – Teil Eins. Zoologische Studien in die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate zwischen 2004 - 2009. ISBN 978-9948-15-462-4. Erste Auflage/First Edition, November 2010: 350 Seiten / Pages. Self Publisher: Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates & Rilchingen-Hanweiler, Bundesrepublik Deutschland. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/faunaemiratuspart1.htm

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2012). Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robustus Lilljeborg, 1861) sighted off the Mediterranean Coast of Palestine. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 100, January 2012. pp. 1-6. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Fauna_Palaestina/message/90 & http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Wale_und_Delphine/message/344 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dr. Norman Ali Bassam (2012). Fauna Palaestina – Part Two. Zoological Studies in Palestine between 1983 – 2009 / Fauna Palaestina - Teil Zwei. Zoologische Studien in Palästina zwischen 1983 – 2009. ISBN 978-9948-16-667-2. 1. Auflage / First Edition : July 2012, Shaaban 1433 H. 208 Seiten / Pages (Arabic Part 120 Pages and the English Part 88 Pages). Publisher: Dar Al Jundi Publishing House, Jerusalem, Palestine. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/faunapalaestinapart2.htm 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dr. Norman Ali Bassam (2013). Fauna Palaestina – Part Three. Zoological Studies in Palestine between 2005 – 2012 / Fauna Palaestina - Teil Drei. Zoologische Studien in Palästina zwischen 2005 – 2012. ISBN 978-9950-383-35-7. Erste Auflage / First Edition : July 2013, Shaaban 1434 H. 364 Seiten / Pages (English / German Part 350 Pages and the Arabic Part 14 Pages). Publisher: Dar Al Jundi Publishing House, Jerusalem, Palestine. http://dr-norman-ali-khalaf-books.webs.com/faunapalaestinapart3.htm 

Khalaf-von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Norman Ali Bassam (2014). Fauna Palaestina – Part Four. Zoological Studies in Palestine between 1983 – 2014 / Fauna Palaestina - Teil Vier. Zoologische Studien in Palästina zwischen 1983 – 2014. ISBN 978-9950-383-77-7. Erste Auflage / First Edition : July 2014, Ramadan 1435 H. pp. 456 (English part 378 pages and Arabic part 78 pages). Publisher: Dar Al Jundi Publishing House, Al-Quds (Jerusalem), State of Palestine. http://fauna-palaestina-part-1.webs.com/faunapalaestina4.htm 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2014). A Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) Stranding on Failaka Island, State of Kuwait. Gazelle - The Palestinian Biological Bulletin (ISSN 0178-6288). Number 119. November 2014. pp. 1-13. Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://animals-of-kuwait.webs.com/ 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2015). The 24-meters Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) Skeleton at the Educational Science Museum in Kuwait City, State of Kuwait. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 - 6288. Number 128, August 2015, pp. 1-18. Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://animals-of-kuwait.webs.com/blue-whale-skeleton 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2015). The Umm Al-Maradem Island Whale Skeleton at the Educational Science Museum in Kuwait City, State of Kuwait. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 - 6288. Number 130, October 2015, pp. 1-18. Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://animals-of-kuwait.webs.com/umm-al-maradem-whale 

 

Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2016). A Scientific Visit to Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Al-Sahraa Al-Gharbiah (Western Desert), Egypt. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin (ISSN 0178 – 6288). Number 134, February 2016, pp. 1-44. Sharjah and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. http://cetacea.webs.com/wadi-el-hitan

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15314938390/

Uhen, Mark D. (2004). Form, Function, and Anatomy of Dorudon Atrox (Mammalia, Cetacea): An Archaeocete from the Middle to Late Eocene of Egypt. Papers on Paleontology (University of Michigan) 34. 

UNESCO. Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley). http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1186 

Wikipedia. Basilosaurus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilosaurus 

Wikipedia. Dorudon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorudon 

Wikipedia. Nummulite. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nummulite 

Wikipedia. Sawfish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawfish 

Wikipedia. Smalltooth Sawfish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smalltooth_sawfish 

Wikipedia. Wadi Al-Hitan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadi_Al-Hitan 

Wikipedia. Wadi Elrayan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadi_Elrayan

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-von Jaffa studying the fossils at Wadi El-Hitan (Whales Valley), Al-Fayyum, Western Desert, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Mostafa Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15498519051/

Prof. Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa at Wadi El-Hitan, Egypt. 11.07.2012. Photo by: Ola Khalaf. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15501326482/