Dinosaur fossils from Saudi Arabia first ever found in region

Jan. 7, 2014 at 4:52 PM
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UPPSALA, Sweden, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Swedish paleontologists say they've uncovered the first record of dinosaurs from Saudi Arabia, an exceptionally rare find on the Arabian Peninsula.

Vertebrae from the tail of a huge "Brontosaurus-like" sauropod, together with some shed teeth from a carnivorous theropod are the first formally identified dinosaur fossils from Saudi Arabia, scientists from Uppsala University reported Tuesday.

They were found in the northwestern part of the Kingdom along the coast of the Red Sea, where what is now dry desert was once a beach littered with the bones and teeth of ancient marine reptiles and dinosaurs, they said.

When these dinosaurs were alive, the Arabian land mass was largely underwater and formed the north-western coastal margin of the African continent.

"Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far," Uppsala researcher Benjamin Kear said.

Scientists from Sweden, Australia and Saudi Arabia took part in the research, conducting excavations under the auspices of the Saudi Geological Survey, Jeddah.

"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, " Tom Rich from Museum Victoria in Australia said.

The teeth and bones are approximately 72 million years old, the researchers said.

"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," Kear said. "Indeed, these are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula."

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