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Eight-million-year-old monkey tooth fossil discovered in Abu Dhabi

Iridescent Ammonite

‘A rare find like this is a first for the entire region’

July 8, 2014 9:50 by



A rare fossilised tooth of an ancient guenon monkey was unearthed from Shuwaihat Island in Abu Dhabi, WAM reports.

Although the discovery was made in 2009, it was made public only on July 3 in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, by an international team of scientists from educational institutions around the world, in addition to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

“Old World monkeys are the most successful and diverse group of living non-human primates, in terms of the number of species, behavioural repertoires and ecology. They have much to teach us about the processes of evolution and the principles of ecology, and are among our closest living relatives,” according to Old World Monkeys by Paul F. Whitehead and Clifford J. Jolly.

Familiar examples of these species, which are commonly found in Africa and Asia, include baboons, mangabeys, leaf monkeys, langurs, as well as African and Asian macaques.

Estimated to be between 6.5 and 8 million years old, the fossilised molar tooth of the Old World guenon monkey could help scientists in understanding the reasons for their migration into the Arabian Peninsula, which is why the discovery is considered profound.

Dr Chris Gilbert, lead author of the study, says: “We know that Old World monkeys originated and migrated out of Africa millions of years ago, but, until now, it has been unclear as to exactly when and how. These fossils indicate that, instead, Old World monkey dispersal could have taken place throughout the Arabian Peninsula, even before the Messinian Crisis.”

Berlin Museum für Naturkunde’s Dr Faysal Bibi, co-author of the paper, adds: “We still know relatively little about ancient life in the Arabian Peninsula. A rare find like this is a first for the entire region.”



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