A tusk leads to belief in the green past of the deserts of Saudi Arabia

A tusk leads to belief in the green past of the deserts of Saudi Arabia


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A team led by the University of Oxford has made a surprising discovery deep in the deserts of Saudi Arabia: a Huge 325,000-year-old tusk belonging to an extinct species of elephant. According to archaeologists it is the clearest proof that giant beasts inhabited the once fertile lands of what is now the arid Nafud desert.

Due to the size of the piece, scientists have estimated that the animal had to weigh between 6 or 7 tons, far more than today's African elephants, which reach 3.6 tons. As for the species with which the tusk is related, it is the Palaeoloxodon, from the Pleistocene epoch.

Thanks to the use of satellite technology to map the terrain, we can predict that there are tens of thousands of unknown archaeological sites in the Arabian desert.”Says project leader Professor Mike Petraglia.

The “Palaeodeserts Project”, which started in 2013 and is expected to last at least four more years; It has been funded by the European Research Council and is a joint venture between the University of Oxford and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Some members of the team are presenting their findings at a three-day conference at the University of Oxford. Saudi princes have flown in to attend the event, which examine how early humans and animals in Arabia were affected by climate change.

In the same area where they found the tusk they also found the remains of an extinct jaguar.

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