The Valley Of Whales
The name Wadi al-Hittan can be translated into English as Valley of Whales, and the reason is not far-fetched. Fossil remains of ancient species of whales such as the Basilosaurus and Dorodontus among others, numbering over 400, have been known to be present in the valley for close to 40 million years.
These fossils, with their stunted fore and hind limbs have provided some insight into the evolution of mammals out of the sea and onto land. Apart from whales, fossils of sharks and other bony fish species as well as manatees can be found in the surrounding desert sand.
This site is only a short distance south of Wadi Rayyan and falls under the protected area designation. The surrounding desert is a good campsite with the provision of basic amenities such as toilets. You can always stop by at Wadi al-Hittan either on your way to or from Wadi Al Rayyan.It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site back in July 2005. You might not understand what’s so special about this site until you learn about the significance of the fossil evidence found there.
The Paleontological site contains skeletons of the archaeoceti, one of the earliest whale species, and the fact that they featured stunted hind and fore limbs provided the critical but previously missing link in the evolution of whales from land to sea animals. While whale fossils are not exclusive to the area, no other single region contains that number of fossils. Also, most of them are still intact and this is a rare combination to find anywhere else.
Also, apart from whales, there abound a lot of fossils from other aquatic and amphibian animals like sawfish, sharks, rays, turtles, and crocodiles. It’s the combination of these factors that make it appropriate to be named a world heritage site.
Updated On April 20, 2020