The dry zone in Egypt, considered as a desert, was once a body of water that was inhabited by ancient sea cows. According to the new research, it happened about 40 million years ago, at the end of the Eocene. At that time, the Eastern Desert of Egypt may have been home to the ancestors of today's manatees. Such conclusions are made on the basis of a find found in the desert.
It represents the fossilized remains of Sirenia: several vertebrae, ribs and bones of an ancient sea creature. A paleontologist Mohamed Qorani Ismail Abdel-Gawad from the University of Cairo believes that the remains belong to a young individual.
The mammalian ancestors from the Sirenia detachment could previously live on land, after which they moved to water bodies. The fossils found belong to the earliest known species known as Pezosiren portelli. It is attributed to the Middle Eocene of Jamaica in the period of about 50 million years ago.
At that time, the animal was semi-aquatic, it had front and hind limbs, like a land organism, but at the same time it constantly immersed itself in water. Gradually, that species became completely aquatic.
The Sirenia population had flippers on the forelimbs, and the hindlimbs were completely lost. Modern sea cows feed on seagrass that grows in clear shallow waters. Apparently, its predecessors had the same nutritional principle.
Recently discovered new fossils of the ancient Sirenia confirmed that the Eastern Desert of Egypt during that period may have been a shallow marine environment. And it was inhabited by herbivorous mammals.
Fossilized remains of the same creatures were found in some regions of Africa that today are exclusively land. These include Libya, Somalia, Togo and Madagascar.