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New fossil study in Abu Dhabi's western region
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Wed January 2, 2008 12:00 am

UAE. A team from the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University in the United States has recently arrived in Abu Dhabi to commence a four year project of collaboration with the Historic Environment Department from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

The joint ADACH-Yale 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, according to an ADACH press release.

The team, led by Professor Andrew Hill and Faysal Bibi from Yale University, is working in Abu Dhabi for one month surveying and mapping fossil sites.

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 today, with rivers flowing through it teeming with hippos, crocodiles, turtles and fish.

Forested areas and savanna-like grasslands were occupied by animals such as elephants, rhinos, giraffes, horses, antelopes and ostriches.

The team includes members of ADACH's Historic Environment Department. Training is being provided by specialists from the Yale Peabody Museum in the conservation, preparation and study of fossil specimens.

The joint ADACH-Yale team has so far carried out surveys at Hamra, Ras Dubay?ah, Ras Al-Qal'a, Shuwaihat and Jebel Barakah. Further work this year is planned for Mleisa, Niqa, Umm al-Ishtan and Jaw Al-Dibsa.

Several important new fossil specimens have already been discovered including the remains of an extinct giant form of ostrich as well as the jaws of an extinct elephant.

The fossils of Abu Dhabi contain elements in common with sites of similar age from Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as a number of new species.

In collaboration with a geologist from the American University of Beirut, an important part of the work to be carried out includes the taking of sediment samples for paleomagnetic dating.

This technique uses the magnetic properties preserved in the sediment to determine the age of the deposits. Additionally, samples will be taken for the identification of microscopic remains of datable marine organisms. The goal is to refine the age and duration of the fossil-bearing sediments.

ADACH's Historic Environment team is currently working on an extensive project mapping the location of all the fossil sites within Abu Dhabi. Most of the fossil sites are located along the coast of the Western Region, an area under threat from rapid development.

It is important that the Abu Dhabi late Miocene deposits receive protection since these represent the most complete, best preserved examples of such deposits within the entire Arabian peninsula.

To mark the end of the first field season there will be a special event held in Abu Dhabi on  8 January 2008 at 7pm.

A reception and lecture entitled 'New Fossil Discoveries from Abu Dhabi's Western Region' will be presented by Professor Andrew Hill at Bainouna Hall in the ADACH headquarters at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi



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