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Dorudon

Dorudon lived:40-36 million years ago. Dorudon fossils come from North America as well as the Fayum deposits in Egypt.

Type: Prehistoric Whale
Diet: Carnivore
Size: 5m long.
Protection status: Extinct
Pronunciation: DOR-oo-don
Latin name: Dorudon atrox
Meaning: "spear-toothed"
Animal Type: Mammal - cetacean (whale family)
Dietary Type: Carnivorous - Small fish and molluscs
Closest Living Relative: Whales
Size: 5m long

These animals are the more compact cousins of Basilosaurus. A famous fossilised bay in Egypt has preserved many of them, along with their babies. Perhaps they calved in bays for protection like some modern whales. Some of the babies obviously weren't protected enough as they had been attacked by a large predator, possibly Basilosaurus.

Dorudon is the second kind of whale found in the Egyptian desert. When the first skeletons were found, palaeontologists assumed that these smaller animals were baby Basilosaurus. However, there are differences, and when baby Dorudon were found it was clear that there were two species of whale in the bay. To date, no baby Basilosaurus have ever been found.

The plot of the Valley of Whales' story thickens, though. The remains of adult Basilosaurus, and both adult and baby Dorudon are found there. This was a shallow bay in the Late Eocene, and so Dorudon possibly came here to breed. Some of the Dorudon, though, have heads that have been smashed in by some sort of predator. Although there are no toothmarks to help apportion blame, the only predator that seems big enough is Dorudon's larger cousin, Basilosaurus. This would explain why only adult Basilosaurus are found in the valley.

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