First-ever dinosaur fossils from Saudi Arabia discovered
Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula and the newly identified specimens were excavated in the northwest part of Saudi Arabia along the coast of the Red Sea
London: The first-ever dinosaur fossils, dating back to 72 million years, in Saudi Arabia have been discovered. Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula and the newly identified specimens were excavated in the northwest part of Saudi Arabia along the coast of the Red Sea.
An international team of scientists from Uppsala University, Museum Victoria, Monash University, and the Saudi Geological Survey unearthed a string of vertebrae from the tail of a huge “Brontosaurus-like” sauropod and some shed teeth from a carnivorous theropod. “Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far,” said Dr Benjamin Kear, based at Uppsala University in Sweden and lead author of the study.
“This discovery is important not only because of where the remains were found, but also because of the fact that we can actually identify them. “Indeed, these are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula,” Kear said.
“Dinosaur remains from the Arabian Peninsula and the area east of the Mediterranean Sea are exceedingly rare because sedimentary rocks deposited in streams and rivers during the Age of Dinosaurs are rare, particularly in Saudi Arabia itself,” added Dr Tom Rich from Museum Victoria in Australia.
When these dinosaurs were alive, the Arabian landmass was largely underwater and formed the north-western coastal margin of the African continent. The teeth and bones are approximately 72 million years old, researchers said.
The theropod is believed to be a 6-metre-long bipedal meat-eater distantly related to Tyrannosaurus rex, while the sauropod was a plant-eating titanosaur that may have been up to 20 metres in length. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.