(ORDO NEWS) — One of the mummified crocodiles measured 3.5 meters from nose to tail. Mummified animals are a common find, but these were buried in a very unusual way.
The Egyptians mummified not only pharaohs, but also crocodiles
The mummified remains of five individual skulls and five partial skeletons have been found by archaeologists in rock tombs at the site of Qubbat al-Hawa on the west bank of the Nile, which dates back to around the 5th century BC.
“Ten crocodile mummies, including five more or less full bodies and five heads, were found in an intact tomb at Qubbat al-Hawa (Aswan, Egypt).
The mummies had varying degrees of preservation and completeness,” the authors of the study said in a statement.
Giant mummies of crocodiles
Museums are full of mummified crocodiles, but very few of them have been subjected to detailed scientific examination because they are often covered in tar or bitumen, making their insides extremely difficult to examine.
As for the mummification process of these recent finds, it appears that the animals were wrapped in linen bandages or palm leaves.
As a rule, crocodiles are mummified by coating them and filling them with resin to prevent decomposition. Fortunately, these animals did not show any signs of resin use, which is unusual and very useful for imaging.
Instead, the researchers believe the crocodiles were laid in sand, which allowed the bodies to dry naturally.
This method left most of the specimens in fairly poor condition even at the time of burial, although one remains in such good condition that its skin and soft tissues are still intact.
Using CT scans and X-rays, the team was able to look under the mummified outer case without having to physically unwrap the remains, risking damaging them.
This showed that the mummies belonged to two separate species: West African and Nile crocodiles, ranging in length from 1.5 to 3.5 meters.
Ironically, the crocodiles show no signs of physical damage, leading researchers to believe they were killed by drowning, suffocation, or overheating in the hot Egyptian sun.
Similarly, how these ferocious predators were captured is unclear, as crocodile specimens often show signs of damage from lassoing and tethering.
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