A catacomb containing 8 million mummified dogs (to honor Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the dead) also held a surprise: a 45-million year old marine vertebrate fossil on the tomb roof. No one is certain whether the Egyptians were aware of the fossil when they built the tomb.
"The ancient [Egyptian] quarry men may have been aware of it, or they may have gone straight through it, it's hard to know," said one of the researchers. The fossil is still being studied, but it is likely an ancient relative of a manatee or dugong. To the ancient Egyptians, what might it have looked like?
A stone Anubis, perhaps?
In ancient Egypt, so many people worshiped Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death, that the catacombs next to his sacred temple once held nearly 8 million mummified puppies and grown dogs, a new study finds. The catacomb ceiling also contains the fossil of an ancient sea monster, a marine vertebrate that's more than 48 million years old, but it's unclear whether the Egyptians noticed the existence of the fossil when they built the tomb for the canine mummies, the researchers said.