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Pre-history and Palaeontology
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Mleisa Elephant Trackway

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FOSSIL FOOTPRINTS

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One of the best-preserved examples of its kind, the Mleisa Elephant Trackway sheds light on an ancient ancestor of today’s African and Asian elephants that once lived in Abu Dhabi
The Mleisa Elephant Trackway at Mleisa Site 1 provides one of the most amazing visual images of life during prehistoric times in the Al Dhafra Region of western Abu Dhabi emirate. Stretching across a flat plain associated with the Baynunah Fossil geological formation are hundreds of ancient elephant footprints made around 7 million years ago.
Scientists have determined that the rock containing the footprints dates from the same Late Miocene Epoch (6-8 million years ago) and that it is part of the Baynunah Geological Formation.
Recent work carried out by palaeontologists has discovered five more examples of elephant trackway sites in the Al Dhafra Region at Mleisa Site 2, Bida Al Mutawaa, Al Shahriyya, Baba Al Ghinia and Jebel Momiya.

THE ELEPHANTS

The Mleisa Elephant Trackway greatly expands human understanding of these elephant ancestors that lived in the savannah grasslands that may have extended from East Africa, across the Arabian Peninsula and west Asia to India.
By comparing the walking pattern of modern elephants to the fossil footprints of their predecessors, scientists determined that the ancient animals were at least 20% larger than their modern counterparts, with a shoulder height of 3 metres or more.
The excellent preservation of the Mleisa Elephant Trackway provides the earliest known evidence for how elephant ancestors interacted socially. This is a unique example of  behaviour preserved in the fossil record. Not only were the female and juvenile elephants herding, but a 260-metre-long trackway of a solitary male at the same site indicates they also differentiated into solitary and social groups, just like elephants today.

 

Did You Know ?

The Mleisa Elephant footprints were the first of their kind to be discovered in the Arabian Peninsula.

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