6-8 million years old fossil unearthed

Anwar Ahmad
Filed on February 2, 2009

ABU DHABI – Fossil experts have made fresh discoveries in the Al Gharbia region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Joint surveys and excavations were carried out starting mid-December last year at Jaw Al Dibsa, Hamra 
and Shuwaihat by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and a team from Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, USA.

The joint project concerns the investigation of the Baynunah Formation, a set of geological deposits rich in fossils, which is exposed in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region.

The team was led by Prof Andrew Hill and Faysal Bibi from Yale University.

Among major discoveries were a well-preserved elephant jaw from Jaw Al Dibsa, a pair of jaws of a primitive horse (known as a ‘hipparion’) and a crocodile skeleton from Hamra.

These sites date back to around 6-8 million years ago, a time known as the late Miocene epoch. During that time, Abu Dhabi was greener than it is now, with rivers flowing through it, teeming with hippopotamuses, crocodiles, turtles and fish. Forested areas and savanna-like grasslands were occupied by animals such as elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, horses, antelopes and ostriches, a statement from ADACH said.

Dr Walid Yasin, manager of Archaeology Section in ADACH, said, “A number of less important things were also discovered during the field investigations. The Yale University team, which left for the US on January 13, will be visiting the emirate again in December for joint discoveries.”

The ADACH’s team also received training in the conservation, preparation and study of fossil specimens. ADACH’s historic environment team is working on an extensive project on mapping the location of all fossil sites within Abu Dhabi.

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