Ted Daeschler of the Academy of Natural
Sciences displays a fossil from a sauropod
similar to those discovered in Yemen.

Dinosaur Tracks Discovered on Arabian Peninsula for the First Time

May 22, 2008 02:03 PM
by Cara McDonough
Scientists have discovered evidence of a large ornithopod dinosaur, as well as a herd of 11 sauropods, in the Republic of Yemen.

30-Second Summary

Scientists say the find is exciting not only because dinosaurs have never before been found in the area, but also because the findings are a good example of dinosaur herding.

“It’s rare to see such a big example of a dinosaur herd,” said Anne Schulp of the Maastricht Museum of Natural History in The Netherlands of the 11 sauropods. “This is interesting social behavior for reptiles.”

The University of California at Berkeley Museum of Paleontology describes sauropods as four-legged herbivores with very long necks and tails and relatively small skulls and brains. Orithnopods were herbivores as well, but walked on two legs.

The rocks in which the dinosaur tracks are preserved are estimated to be from the Late Jurassic age, or roughly 150 million years old.

Most importantly, the findings provide a new window into evolutionary history in a largely unexplained geographic region, Schulp said. “We really want to learn when did which dinosaurs live where, and why was that?” she said. “How did the distribution change over time, why did one replace another and move from one place to another?”

The dinosaur tracks are the latest in what seems to be a big year for archeologists and paleontologists.

In March, the oldest fossils of early human ancestors were found in Europe, and in April, scientists discovered new evidence that suggests the first humans came to North America 14,000 years ago, more than 1,000 earlier than previously estimated.

Headline Links: Dinosaur tracks found on Arabian Peninsula

Related Topics: Other notable discoveries this year

Biodiversity falling at rate unprecedented since the dinosaurs

Reference: Ornithopods and Sauropods


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines