Biotically constrained palaeoenvironmental conditions of a mid-Holocene intertidal lagoon on the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf: Evidence associated with a whale skeleton at Musaffah, Abu Dhabi, UAE

J. R. Stewart, S. Aspinall, M. Beech, P. Fenberg, P. Hellyer, N. Larkin, S. W. Lokier, F. G. Marx, M. Meyer, R. Miller, P. S. Rainbow, J. D. Taylor, J. E. Whittaker, K. Al-Mehsin, C. J. Strohmenger

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Whale remains (a left and right mandible, scapula, humerus and fragmentary radius and ulna as well as parts of the cranium and rostrum) belonging to a probable humpback whale (Megaptera cf. novaeangliae) were found in the well-described sabkha sequence exposed in the Musaffah Industrial Channel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. More precisely, the whale remains were found in a series of sediments representing a range of lagoonal facies. The sediments surrounding the whale bones were age-dated at approximately 5200 14C yrsBP and are therefore interpreted to correspond to the previously documented late Flandrian sea-level peak, preceding a fall in sea-level which culminated in the supratidal sabkha overprint of the carbonates. Associated with the whale remains is an assemblage of molluscs, foraminifera and ostracods. Together with the inferred presence of sea grass and algae, these facies are interpreted to indicate a very shallow subtidal to intertidal lagoonal environment. Cirripede remains found associated with the skeleton were identified as those of the whale barnacle Coronula diadema and hence had their origins with the whale. Significantly, the low species diversity of microfossils suggests that higher salinities existed in the mid-Holocene lagoon than are present in modern counterparts. This is here inferred to be related to the onset of continental aridity in Arabia during the mid-Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3675-3690
Number of pages16
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Issue number25-26
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

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