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Temporal range: Late Eocene
Saghacetus osiris eo sup fayum.JPG
Skull of Saghacetus osiris at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Infraorder: Cetacea
Family: Basilosauridae
Subfamily: Dorudontinae
Genus: Saghacetus
Gingerich 1992

S. osiris (type)

  • Dorudon elliotsmithii
  • D. sensitivus
  • D. zitteli
  • Zeuglodon elliotsmithii
  • Z. sensitivius
  • Z. sensitivus
  • Z. zitteli

Saghacetus is an extinct genus of basilosaurid early whale, fossils of which have been found in the Upper Eocene (middle Priabonian, 37.2 to 33.9 million years ago) Qasr el Sagha Formation, Egypt (29°42′N 30°48′E / 29.7°N 30.8°E / 29.7; 30.8, paleocoordinates 25°00′N 26°42′E / 25.0°N 26.7°E / 25.0; 26.7).[2][3]

Mandible from Dames 1894, the type specimen

In 1879, German botanist Georg August Schweinfurth spent many years exploring Africa and eventually discovered the first archaeocete whale in Egypt. He visited Qasr el Sagha in 1884 and 1886 and missed the now famous "Zeuglodon Valley" with a few kilometres. German palaeontologist Wilhelm Barnim Dames described the material,[4] including a well-preserved dentary which is the type specimen of Zeuglodon osiris.[5]

The generic name Saghacetus was established by Gingerich 1992[6] to group the ancient species Dorudon osiris, D. zitteli, D. sensitivius and D. elliotsmithii on a single species, Saghacetus osiris. This species is distinguished from other members of the subfamily Dorudontinae by its smaller size and the slightly elongated proximal lumbar and caudal vertebrae.[7]

Saghacetus is smaller than its contemporary Stromerius, both of which are smaller than the older Dorudon.[8]


  1. ^ Saghacetus osiris in the Paleobiology Database. Retrieved May 2013.
  2. ^ Saghacetus in the Paleobiology Database. Retrieved May 2013.
  3. ^ Tamariskenbucht (Eocene of Egypt) in the Paleobiology Database. Retrieved July 2013.
  4. ^ Dames 1883a; Dames 1883b, pp. 130–135; Dames 1894
  5. ^ Gingerich 2007, pp. 110–112
  6. ^ Gingerich 1992, p. 73
  7. ^ Uhen 2008, p. 93
  8. ^ Gingerich 2007, Diagnosis, p. 368