Extinct geese found on 4,600-year-old Egyptian frescoes

Even the most primitive rock paintings are actually unique scientific monuments, sources of the most valuable knowledge about the nature of ancient times. For example, the presence of a rhino or a buffalo in a hunting scene makes it possible to determine in which regions and at what time these animals existed. But things get even more interesting when scientists find a hitherto unknown view on the magnificently preserved multi-colored and highly detailed frescoes from Ancient Egypt.

The frescoes "Geese of Meidum" were discovered back in 1871, they are part of the decoration of the tomb of the ancient prince, built 4600 years ago. Through the efforts of the Italian Egyptologist Luigi Vassalli, this "greatest artistic masterpiece of Ancient Egypt" has been preserved almost perfectly. It was admired precisely as a work of painting, along with depictions of leopards, dogs and white antelopes, until the evolutionary biologist Anthony Romilio of the University of Queensland in Australia became interested in the mural today.

All the geese in the frescoes were originally assigned to three species: large white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons), gray geese (A. anser) and red-throated geese (Branta ruficollis), which are still found today. Some inaccuracies were attributed to the style of the ancient artist, but Romilio saw clues in them. He carefully studied the images and was able to prove that the birds in the figure are fundamentally different from the red-throated geese.

Romilio concluded that the fresco depicts a species of geese that existed and were important to the ancient Egyptians 4600 years ago, but then became extinct. This image is, in fact, the only remaining evidence of their existence. But it opens up a new direction for research - there is a version that thousands of years ago the northern lands of Africa were not a desert, but a green garden, and the Sahara was considered a paradise for farmers who could breed geese there.