Two Review Papers on the Miocene Fossil Animals of Abu Dhabi

Our team has  published two  papers reviewing all the fossil species that we and previous teams have found from the Baynunah Formation of the Al Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi Emirate.

The first is  titled Before archaeology: life and environments in the Miocene of Abu Dhabifrom the book Fifty Years of Emirates Archaeology (editors D. Potts & P. Hellyer), published in 2012. (click on title to download pdf)

The second, also a book chapter, is titled Late Miocene Fossils from the Baynunah Formation, United Arab Emirates: Summary of a Decade of New Work, from a recently published book called Fossil Mammals of Asia (Columbia Univ. Press, editors X. Wang, M. Fortelius, L. Flynn). (click on title to download pdf)

In addition to providing information on the wide range of animals that existed in Abu Dhabi in the Late Miocene, these papers also review the history of discovery of fossils in the Al Gharbia region. The reviews (especially the second one) also compare the similarity of these  late Miocene fossil animals to those from Africa and Asia, showing that the region at the time housed a mix of African and southern Asian animals that is not recorded anywhere else.

To anyone previously unfamiliar with the subject, these reviews show quite clearly the diversity of prehistoric animals that used to live in this part of the Arabian Peninsula. This large diversity of everything from shells to crocodiles, rodents, birds, monkeys, and elephants was supported by a river system that once flowed through what is now the U.A.E., and that has long since gone dry and disappeared.

Excavating lower jaws of a proboscidean at the site of Hamra 3-1. To the south, in the background, are the upper beds of the Baynunah Formation. Taken on 17 December, 2007.
Excavating lower jaws of a proboscidean at the site of Hamra 3-1. To the south, in the background, are the upper beds of the Baynunah Formation. Taken on 17 December, 2007.
Map and satellite image of Al Gharbia showing main fossil localities. Black circles denote localities with body fossils, white circles denote fossil trackway sites.
Map and satellite image of Al Gharbia showing main fossil localities. Black circles denote localities with body fossils, white circles denote fossil trackway sites.
Stratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy of the Baynunah Formation. Body fossils (of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants) are recovered from multiple horizons in the lower part of the Baynunah, while footprint fossils are recorded from carbonates correlating to the upper portion. Stratigraphic column reproduced from Ditchfield (1999, fig. 7.2), and paleomagnetic data from Hailwood and Whybrow (1999, fig. 8.5). The high frequency of polarity reversals in the period between 8 and 6Ma means any correlation of the Baynunah with the GPTS is equivocal, but the presence of at least 4 reversals in the Baynunah suggests a duration of 300,000 years or more for the Baynunah Formation.
Stratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy of the Baynunah Formation. Body fossils (of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants) are recovered from multiple horizons in the lower part of the Baynunah, while footprint fossils are recorded from carbonates correlating to the upper portion. Stratigraphic column reproduced from Ditchfield (1999, fig. 7.2), and paleomagnetic data from Hailwood and Whybrow (1999, fig. 8.5). The high frequency of polarity reversals in the period between 8 and 6Ma means any correlation of the Baynunah with the GPTS is equivocal, but the presence of at least 4 reversals in the Baynunah suggests a duration of 300,000 years or more for the Baynunah Formation.
One of a herd of proboscidean (elephant) trackways at the site of Mleisa 1.
One of a herd of proboscidean (elephant) trackways at the site of Mleisa 1.
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