Bulletin 40 - March 1990: Geology Recorder's Report for 1989

Geology Recorder's Report for 1989

In January 1989, a team of scientists led by Dr. Peter Whybrow of the British Museum explored the western region of Abu Dhabi for paleontology, stratigraphic and palaeomagnetic data. Their work resulted in the unearthing of a large number of animal fossil fragments. This material was found in late Miocene strata ranging in age from five to 12 million years. The main finds consisted of fossilized bones of elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotami, fishes, crocodiles, turtles and fossilized ostrich eggshells and fossils of early horses (the oldest found so far in the Arabian peninsula). In addition, a tooth of a possible carnivorous animal and a toe-bone of a falcon-like bird were also found. The carnivore's tooth is particularly interesting because prior to this discovery only fossils of herbivorous animals had been unearthed. The fossil teeth of an early horse or Hipparion belong to species previously unknown. It has been tentatively given the Latin name of "Nahyani."

These fossil fragments together with fossilized plant material indicate a wet, wooded landscape and contradicts the conventional concept that arid conditions were beginning to prevail in Arabia during the late Miocene. Dr. Whybrow dubbed the rocks in which these fragments were found the 'Bainuna' formation.

Dr. Whybrow presented the main results in his exploration at the Cultural Foundation in Abu Dhabi in a meeting organized last year by the ENHG. He and his team have been back in the UAE since mid-December and are continuing their research in the Western Region near Jebel Dhanna. We are looking forward to hearing about the results of their fieldwork. The results of the 1988-89 visit have already been published in several prestigious magazines.

C.U. Crausaz


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