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Al Khoudh was home to dinosaurs 70 million years ago

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Photos by Al Baraa Al Hashimi

The enchanting tapestry of nature continually weaves its intricate patterns, providing glimpses into the deep-rooted history of life on Earth. In the case of Al Khoudh in the Sultanate of Oman, nature's magic has unfolded through a remarkable revelation — dinosaur footprints dating back an astonishing 70 million years have been unearthed, thanks to the tireless work of geologists from Sultan Qaboos University.

These fossilised imprints bear testament to the biological activity of long-extinct creatures, capturing their burrows, feeding marks, and, most captivatingly, their footprints. This invaluable geological evidence takes us on a captivating journey into the past, offering a glimpse into the coexistence of Theropods and Sauropods in Al Khoudh during a distant era.

The discovery site, nestled in the Wilayat of Al Seeb in Muscat Governorate, was once a thriving region of active rivers during the Cretaceous period. These rivers flowed vigorously in a climate more humid than today, reminiscent of the valleys seen in Fanja and Al Khoudh today, descending from the mountains.

Researchers at Sultan Qaboos University have meticulously identified four distinct dinosaur species that once roamed Oman. Among them, the predatory Theropod dinosaur takes centre stage. This renowned carnivore ranks among the largest predators known to have walked the Earth, boasting teeth that could measure several inches in length.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Sauropod dinosaur emerges as one of the largest land creatures ever to grace our planet. Certain sauropod species could attain staggering lengths of up to 30 metres and reach heights of around 18 metres, characterised by their relatively short tails, elongated necks, and colossal bodies reminiscent of elephants.

These fossilised bones constitute the Arabian Peninsula's inaugural evidence of these dinosaur species. The reason behind the scarcity of complete skeletons becomes evident when we consider the rivers' role in transporting and repositioning fossilised bones into ravines and coastal areas. Subsequently, sediment encased these remnants, shielding them from decomposition due to oxygen depletion. Thus, the scattered dinosaur bones, both past and present discoveries, beckon further research to unravel their origins fully.

A remarkable contribution to this discovery comes from the diligent efforts of Axel Hartman and Mohammed al Kindi, who uncovered a diverse array of dinosaur fossils. These specimens range in size from a mere 10 cm to an astounding 55 cm or more. During geological surveys near Al Khoudh village, the Oman Geological Society team stumbled upon yet another astonishing find: fossilised dinosaur dung. This prehistoric excrement offers a unique window into the dietary habits of these ancient creatures and helps identify the specific dinosaur species that once inhabited this region.

Intriguingly, these dung fossils, rich in phosphorus, have found practical use in certain parts of the world as a natural soil fertiliser. Mohammed al Kindi emphasises that the area surrounding Al Khoudh village teems with undiscovered Cretaceous period fossils, suggesting that more extensive efforts and research are needed to unveil the hidden treasures of this captivating region. The story of Al Khoudh's ancient inhabitants continues to unravel, offering an awe-inspiring testament to the ever-evolving narrative of life on Earth.

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