Beneath the Mediterranean Sea and next to today’s Egypt is the ancient sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion. There, archaeologists have recently discovered the 2,200-year-old wreck of an ancient Egyptian galley that sank after getting struck by the giant blocks from the temple of Amun. The ship was found along with a burial ground.
Fast Galleys Were Used Widely Throughout Ancient Egypt
The shipwreck shows a ship that is called a fast galley. This was a type of vessel using a large sail and a team of oarsmen to propel it to relatively high speeds. This particular fast galley is 82 feet long and has a flat keel, which is a common feature for vessels that navigated the Nile during the times of Ancient Egypt. According to experts, the galley sank when it was hit by huge blocks from the temple of Amun, which was destroyed completely during a second-century calamity — probably an earthquake. The ancient fast galley is now beneath 16 feet of rubble and clay from the temple.
An Ancient Burial Ground Was Also Found at the Sunken City Site
At Thonis-Heracleion, the archaeologists also found a burial ground that was used some 2,400 years ago. Elaborately decorated pottery and a golden amulet were discovered there, and one piece of pottery even had images of waves on it. The gold amulet depicts the Egyptian god Bes who was associated with fertility and childbirth. The burial ground was covered with a large pile of rocks called a tumulus. This practice was often used in ancient Egypt and other parts of the world to mark burials.
The ancient sunken city where the recent discoveries were made was called Heracleion by the ancient Greeks and Thonis by the ancient Egyptians, which is why modern-day archaeologists refer to it as Thonis-Heracleion. A series of earthquakes gradually toppled the city into the sea over the centuries until it was completely submerged nearly 1,000 years ago. It was rediscovered by archaeologists back in 1999-2000, and its remains have been studied by experts ever since.
University Scientists Have Reconstructed a Dinosaur Opening
Most mammals may have different openings for their functions, but most vertebrate animals possess a cloaca. Although people know much about the dinosaur and its appearance as feathered, horned, and scaly creatures, and even which colors they sported, humanity still wonders about how the vent appears.
A Game-Changing Discovery
Dr. Jakob Vinther from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, along with the paleoartist Robert Nicholis and Dr. Diane Kelly, who is a specialist in copulatory systems and vertebrate penises from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has now described the first cloacal vent region from a dinosaur with the size of a labrador with the name Psittacosaurus, comparing it to vent across modern vertebrate animals living on land.
Dr. Vinther shares that he noticed the cloaca years ago after they had reconstructed the color patterns of this dinosaur using a remarkable fossil on display at the Senckenberg Museum in Germany, which preserves its color patterns and skin.
It took them a long time before they got around to finish it off. The reason for this is that no one has ever thought of comparing the exterior of cloacal openings of living animals. They considered this to be largely unchartered territory. Dr. Kelly added that they are pretty nondescript. They found the vent does look different in many different groups of tetrapods; however, in most cases, it didn’t tell much about the sex of the animal.
The researchers note that the outer margins of the cloaca of the dinosaur are highly pigmented with melanin. They think that this pigmentation provided the vent with a special function in display and signaling just as with living baboons and some breathing salamanders.
Reconstructing the Dinosaur’s Features
Robert Nicholis said that as a paleoartist, he found it amazing to have the great opportunity to reconstruct one of the last remaining features we didn’t know about in dinosaurs. He thinks that knowing that at least some of them were signaling to each other gives the specialists the great freedom to speculate on a whole variety of how plausible interactions during dinosaur courtship. The doctors from the university consider this to be a whole game changer.