Specimen of the Month

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Mummified – Nile CrocodileCrocodylus niloticus

Since ancient times crocodiles were very common along the lower regions of the River Nile. All this changed when the Aswan Dam was constructed in 1970. Today, Nile Crocodiles can still be found in the waterways south of Aswan.

In Pharaonic Egypt this large reptile was widely distributed throughout the whole length of the Nile. Like many other animal deities, the crocodile also formed part of this pantheon of gods. He was known as Sobek and was depicted as a crocodile or a man with the head of a crocodile; a powerful and frightening deity.

In Egyptian mythology it was Sobek who first came out of the waters of chaos to create the world. As a creator god, he was occasionally linked with the sun god Ra. Thousands of mummified crocodiles were found scattered in various tombs and holy sites in Egypt.

One such specimen was presented to the National Museum of Natural History. It now forms part of the permanent display of the museum.

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