Sahara desert was once lush oasis filled with LAKES as remains of thousands of fish uncovered
EARTH'S greatest hot desert was once "rich in water and life".
The remains of thousands of fish have been uncovered in the hot and arid Sahara Desert, dating back just a few thousand years.
These ancient sea creatures will have swam across huge lakes once common across the Sahara region.
That's because the Sahara isn't always a desert – and regularly reverts to lush grassland over the millennia.
Fish are a rare sight in today's Sahara, but would have once been common.
A new study uncovered 17,551 animal remains at the Takarkori rock shelter in southwestern Libya.
And of these, fish made up a staggering 80% of the finds.
A further 19% were mammals, while the remaining 1.3% were birds, reptiles, molluscs and amphibians.
All of the fish are believed to have been human food refuse, according to scientists at the SapienzeUniversity of Rome.
That's because excavators found cut marks and traces of burning.
Fish species found at the site included catfish and tilapia.
And the findings date back to a water-rich period in Saharan history, between 4,650 and 10,200 years ago.
Sahara Desert – the key facts
Here's what you need to know…
- The Sahara Desert is a major desert in Africa
- It's the largest hot desert in the world, and the third largest after Antarctica and the Arctic
- It spans an enormous area of 3.6million square miles – about the size of China or the USA
- The desert is notable for covering much of North Africa
- Exceptions include the fertile areas along the Mediterranean Sea coast, the Atlas Mountains, and the Nile Valley
- The Sahara has been alternating between desert and grassland for hundreds of thousands of years
- At times, it has been a lush oasis with large bodies of water
- This is linked to Earth's rotation around the Sun, which changes the location of the North African Monsoon
- It's expected that the Sahara will become green once again in 15,000 years
Interestingly, the quantity of fish remains decreased over time – highlighting the changing Saharan landscape.
Fish made up 90% of the early remains, but this proportion dropped to just 40% towards the end of the period.
This suggests that humans switched to hunting more abundant prey, or farming livestock.
"This study reveals the ancient hydrographic network of the Sahara and its interconnection with the Nile," the researchers wrote.
"Providing crucial information on the dramatic climate changes that led to the formation of the largest hot desert in the world.
"Takarkori rock shelter has once again proved to be a real treasure for African archaeology and beyond.
"A fundamental place to reconstruct the complex dynamics between ancient human groups and their environment in a changing climate."
The Sahara Desert is expected to become green once again around the year 17,000 AD.
This research was published in the PLOS ONE journal.
In other news, a beautiful desert teeming with wildlife found nowhere else on Earth has been pictured.
A mysterious 380,000 square-mile ‘blob’ of hot water is floating towards New Zealand and could wipe out local sealife.
And, a stunning photo of a lion cub bellowing "its first roar" has been revealed by a wildlife photographer.
What do you make of this fishy find? Let us know in the comments!
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