Saudi Red Sea coast was once home to meat-eating dinosaurs

What is now dry desert was once a beach littered with the bones and teeth of ancient marine reptiles and dinosaurs. (File photo: Shutterstock)

A team of scientists from the Saudi Geological Survey with the active support of Uppsala University, Museum Victoria and Monash University have uncovered the first record of dinosaurs from Saudi Arabia.

What is now dry desert was once a beach littered with the bones and teeth of ancient marine reptiles and dinosaurs.

The researchers found teeth and bones dating from around 72 million years ago in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia along the coast of the Red Sea, according to the scientific journal PLOS ONE which published the finds jointly authored by participating researchers from Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Australia.

Two types of dinosaur were described from the assemblage, a bipedal meat-eating abelisaurid distantly related to Tyrannosaurus but only about six meters long, and a plant-eating titanosaur perhaps up to 20 meters in length.

“These are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula,” Australian paleobiologist Benjamin Kear said in a statement.

“Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far,” he 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,” said Dr. Tom Rich from Museum Victoria in Australia.

When these dinosaurs were alive, the Arabian landmass was largely underwater and formed the northwestern coastal margin of the African continent.

“The hardest fossil to find is the first one,” Dr. Rich said.

(This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Jan. 7, 2014)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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