Fossil of extinct elephant found in the Arabian Peninsula

The Pleistocene vertebrate record of the Arabian Peninsula is poorly known. In our latest paper we report on an important contribution to the record and describe the results of collaborative investigations with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and Saudi Geological Survey of the fossil site of Ti’s al Ghadah in the southwestern Nefud desert.

Excavations underway at Ti’s al Ghadah

Excavations underway at Ti’s al Ghadah

Our dating analyses indicate that the fossil assemblages, which were recovered in situ underlying an ancient lake deposit, are c. 500, 000 years old. The identified animals indicates the presence of large bodies of water and substantial grassland habitats in the Pleistocene of the southwestern Nefud: we infer that animal bones accumulated at Ti’s al Ghadah because herbivores, as well as their predators and scavengers, were attracted to freshwater and plant resources in the inter-dune basin.

The identified assemblages include extinct mammals such as the elephant, Palaeoloxodon, and the Eurasian jaguar, Panthera cf. gombaszogensis, as well as extant mammals such as oryx, onager and golden wolf. The excavations also yielded the first stratified Pleistocene bird bones from the Arabian Peninsula, which include records of Egyptian vulture, grebe, ostrich and sandgrouse.

Read more in Middle Pleistocene vertebrate fossils from the Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia: Implications for biogeography and palaeoecology in Quaternary Science Reviews.