Palaeontological observations first began in what is now the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with the explorations of petroleum geologists. Some references to sediments and to fossils appear in unpublished geological reports of the relevant oil companies. For example, Holm and Layne in an unpublished survey of 1949, reported "probable horse teeth and bones" at Jebel Dhanna. During the 1949 survey they also visited Jebel Barakah and produced a geological section.
Bramkamp and Ramirez, geologists working with the Arabian-American Oil Company (ARAMCO), examined (1940s to 1950s) rocks in the Western Region and thought they were Middle Miocene in age. They linked these sediments to formations previously described in eastern Saudi Arabia, the marine Dam Formation, dated between 19 and 16 Ma, and the overlying continental Hofuf Formation, estimated at about 14 Ma.
In 1968 Glennie and Evamy reported
on their visit to Jebel Barakah in the early 1960s working with Royal
Dutch Shell (Glennie and Evamy, 1968).
They had found the tooth of a fossil proboscidean, and believed the enclosing
sediments to be dune sands and wadi conglomerates.
In 1979 Peter Whybrow (The Natural History Museum, London, UK), while working in Qatar, made a one-day visit to Jebel Barakah, where he found crocodilian vertebrae and a proximal ulna of a bovid. Whybrow revisited Barakah in 1981, discovering two equid teeth, confirming the reports of Holm and Layne. The teeth belonged to the genus Hipparion, which is unknown in the Old World until about 11 million years ago. This demonstrated that the sediments were younger than had previously been thought. He also found a Hexaprotodon hippopotamus mandible, the first from Arabia.
In 1984, two of us (PJW, AH) independently examined the Miocene of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In 1989, we initiated the project titled Miocene faunas and floras of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This work was originally in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities and Tourism, Al Ain, with support also from British Petroleum Exploration and the Leakey Foundation.
From 1991 we have received support from the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) and, through this generous support, the Natural History Museum/Yale University project continues until the year 2000.
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