What’s On details an archaeological discovery in UAE, made by scientists from Yale, Museum for Naturkande, and Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

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The UAE was last the week the scene of an exciting archeological development when a fossil found in Abu Dhabi five years ago was aligned with that of a ‘monkey’ which walked almost seven million years ago.

A group of scientists from illustrious institutions such as Yale University, Hunter College and the Museum for Naturkande in Berlin, as well as those from the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, came across the gnasher on Shuwaihat Island in Al Gharbia, according to national news agency WAM.

It had been hoped that the discovery would provide an insight into when and how species from a bygone time left Africa for Europe and Asia, or Eurasia as it was known then.

Dr Gilbert, one of those in the study, said: “These fossils indicate that Old World monkey dispersal could have taken place through the Arabian Peninsula even before the Messenia Crisis.”

The actual fossil find, a first of its kind in the region, was discovered in 2009, but scientists announced its exciting findings on July 3, concluding that the tooth came from one of the earliest known ‘guenon’, or monkey. These creatures originate from sub-Saharan Africa and still exist today, mostly in forests. 

All members of the genus are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, and most are forest monkeys. Many of the species are quite local in their ranges, and some have even more local subspecies. Many are threatened or endangered because of habitat loss.

Reflecting on the long process, Dr Faysal Bibi from the Museum for Naturkunde, added: “When we found it, we were doing back-breaking sieving work searching for remains of tiny fossil rodents. We spent many days over consecutive years sieving through tons of sand at this one site. It paid off. We still know relatively little about ancient life in the Arabian Peninsula.”