For some animals we only have fossil data. But others are in the ancient art even though they have not reached our days in life. We see it in the find of extinct geese in an Egyptian painting. A true screen into the past.
The Mona Lisa of Egypt
It is an extinct species of the spotted goose. It appeared in a well-known Egyptian painting dating back 4,500 years. It is a scene of hunting birds with a stucco painted net. It is located in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.
University of Queensland scientist Anthony Romilio analyzed it. He said that the strange but beautiful bird was very different from modern red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis). The colors and patterns were clear and noticeable.
«The painting Ocas de Meidum has been admired since it was discovered in the 19th century. It is described as the Mona Lisa of Egypt. Nobody noticed that it was an unknown species. The artistic license could certainly explain the differences to modern geese. But the artwork on this page has extremely realistic depictions of other birds and mammals, “Romilio said in a statement. No bones of red breasted geese have been found at any Egyptian archaeological site.
A green past
Interestingly, bones of a similar but not identical bird have been found in Crete. From a zoological point of view, the Egyptian work of art is the only documentation of this goose. Now it seems to be globally extinct. ‘
The discovery of extinct geese in an Egyptian painting tells of their past. Egypt was not always mostly desert. It had a history of biodiversity that was rich in extinct species. Their ancient culture originated when the Sahara was green. It was covered with grasslands, lakes, and forests full of various animals. Many of them were represented in tombs and temples. So far, science has confirmed the identity of relatively fewer of these species. ‘