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Important New Fossils Found in Abu Dhabi

(Wam)
Filed on January 25, 2010

ABU DHABI - Recent excavations in Al Gharbia (Western Region) area have turned up two complete large skulls of crocodiles that used to inhabit the river area some eight million years ago, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) has announced.

The fossils were found as a result of technical cooperation between the Department of Historic Environment at ADACH and the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, USA.

Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazroui, Director General of ADACH, explained that these excavations took about three weeks of field work (from December 28, last year, to January 16) and included a working group composed of nine members from the Department of Historic Environment, led by Dr Mark Beech.

These excavations took place in addition to the work of a team of fossil specialists comprising Dr. Faysal Bibi from the University of Poitiers in France, Professor Andrew Hill of Yale University, and Dr. Matthew Schuster from University of Poitiers.

The team sought to gain a greater understanding of this ancient environment, where evidence of fossil white ants has been discovered for the first time.

Mazroui noted that the team is also working on a project which aims to prepare a comprehensive map of fossils in Abu Dhabi. The majority of these sites are found along Al Gharbia.

It is a matter of great importance that the necessary protection is provided in order to preserve these geological layers deposited from the late Miocene era. They represent the only examples of these layers which have kept their original form in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula territory.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Amer Al Neyadi, Director of the Department of Historic Environment at ADACH, said that vigorous efforts are underway to protect and preserve these sites and to safeguard the fossils from various threats, thanks to combined effort of Al Gharbia Municipality and the Urban Planning Council.

Neyadi explained that the discovery of these fossils is very important at local, regional and global level because they are the only examples of their kind in the region. He added that fencing around the sites has been completed as part of ADACH’s strategy to preserve the important archaeological areas in Abu Dhabi.

Also participating in the project was Dr. Olga Otero from the University of Poitiers, who inspected fish fossils, and found, within a very short period of time, types of fossils previously unknown. Also on the team is Professor Brian Gratz, from the Western University School of Health Sciences, USA. He continued his research examining the fossils of small rodents and discovered more interesting examples of the species of mice that carried the name of the same area: Abudhabia baynunensis.

It should be noted that more sites were discovered, dating back to a period between six and eight million years ago, containing high-quality fossils from the many types of animals that lived at that time, including elephants, hippopotamuses, antelopes, giraffes, monkeys, rodents, large and small carnivores, ostriches, turtles, crocodiles and fish.

Although there is evidence that the desert conditions that existed then are similar to those that exist now, these creatures were sustained with life by a great river, as well as thriving vegetation. These animals are similar to those known to have existed in East Africa during the same period of time, corresponding to some European and Asian species of the same era.





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