jueves, 3 de abril de 2014

Tusk clue to Saudi desert's green past

Deep in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, a team led by Oxford University has made a startling discovery: a giant, 325,000-year-old tusk belonging to an extinct species of elephant, remarkably preserved and embedded by an ancient lake.

1/3. The tusk is thought to have belonged to a species of straight-tusked elephant known as Palaeoloxodon
It is vivid proof, say archaeologists, that giant beasts once roamed lush and fertile plains where today the wind-blown sand covers the searing Nafud Desert.

Picture the Nafud Desert and it is almost impossible to imagine it as anything other than a place of heat, wind and sand.

Yet scratch beneath the surface, as an international team of archaeologists have been doing, and there is evidence of a green and wet landscape where huge animals once hunted and foraged.

"Using satellite technology to map out the terrain, we predict there are tens of thousands of unknown archaeological sites in the Arabian Desert," says project leader Prof Mike Petraglia. "There are over 7,000 [dried-up] lake beds on the peninsula, most in Saudi Arabia."[...] bbc.com/