10 Egyptian Animals
The ancient Egyptians were keen naturalists and tedious archivists, allowing modern researchers to piece together the region’s ecology as it flourished 6,000 years ago.
Animal iconography was a common motif, and the assortment of local beasts was preserved through a variety of media, including carvings, rock art, ceremonial pieces, and murals on tomb walls. Combined, these sources provide a thorough record of Egyptian fauna and a depressing reminder that of the 37 large mammal species that once roamed the Earth, only eight remain.
The picture was strikingly different in the pre-Christ era: Egypt mirrored a North African Serengeti, inhabited by all manner of savanna dwellers, including lions, wildebeests, zebras, and wild dogs. Sadly, a good number of these creatures were lost during periods of drought, although human competition and loss of habitat are also to blame.
With many elements of an ecosystem codependent, the process is accelerated as each new species is returned to dust. For example, every herbivore that dies off provides one less food source for predators. Researchers warn that the few survivors are at greater risk now than at virtually any time since the end of the last ice age.