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The Past

20 - 2 million years ago
Jebel Barakah

Between Jebel Dhannah and the Qatar peninsula the coast of Abu Dhabi is low and dominated by sabkha with occasional sand hills and low grass vegetation. The highest point (62.6 m) along this stretch of coast is Jebel Barakah, an isolated outcrop composed of red sandstone (originally wind-blown sand) and thin bands of conglomerate (originally water-transported, wadi pebbles). This unprepossessing location was visited in the 1960s by the geologist K.W. Glennie who found the tooth of a Tetralophodon in one of the sandstone layers, as well as rod-like shapes which he thought had been formed by desert plants or dikaka. In the 1970s P.J. Whybrow , of the British Museum of Natural History, and H.J. McClure, of ARAMCO (Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia), re-visited Jebel Barakah and discovered, in one of the conglomerate levels, the dorsal vertebra of an unidentified Crocodilia, as well as the proximal left radius of an Oioceros. In contrast to Glennie, Whybrow and McClure interpreted the rod-like shapes at Jebel Barakah as the remnants of fossil casts of mangrove roots. This suggests that a tropical climate prevailed at the site, while the fossils recovered suggest a hinterland characterised by a warm climate, less humid than that of the coast, with seasonal, possibly monsoonal, rainfall. This contrasts markedly with the currently harsh, arid conditions in the region today.

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