A team of scientists made an exciting discovery when they dug up a huge elephant tusk in Saudi Arabia, now confirmed to be 300,000 years old. They discovered it under sand beside a dried up ancient lake, suggesting that the scorching hot deserts there, were once covered in lush fertile grassland, where large animals roamed. Scientists believe the tusk belonged to an extinct species related to the elephant family from the Pleistocene era, known as Palaeoloxodon. These findings were further discussed at the Green Arabia conference held in April in Oxford, UK. HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Chairman of the Board and President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), delivered the introduction, providing an overview of the heritage of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its importance to the history of Islam. He also discussed Saudi Arabia’s heritage in relation to the wider world and the importance of tourism development. HRH The Prince of Wales welcomed the guests, noting the importance of the Green Arabia concept, in the light of environmental concerns in the 21st century and highlighting how understanding the past can help shape the future.

The Palaeodeserts Project will examine environmental change in the Arabian Desert over the last one million years. A multidisciplinary team of researchers is meanwhile studying the effect of environmental change on early humans and animals that settled or passed through the desert and how their responses determined whether they survived or became extinct.

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