Western Desert Project:
• This project aims at working in the LateCretaceous (Campanian and Maastrichtian) beds exposed in central-south Egypt (see image below). Recovery of archosaurs and mammals from these deposits would help to fill in a major gap in Africa's record of vertebrate evolution, which is very poorly documented from the Turonian to the late Paleocene. Importantly, recovery of mammals from this age would provide a key test of this biogeographic hypothesis. Vertebrates from the Late Cretaceous of Egypt would also help to test a number of other outstanding hypotheses surrounding dinosaur and crocodylomorph biogeography during the fragmentation of Gondwana. .
Haytham El- Atfy (left), Joseph Sertich and Hesham Sallam examining vertebrate fossils in the Upper Cretaceous deposits exposed around Dakhla Oasis.
• This project is in collaboration with Stony Brook University,Duke University and the Egyptian Geological Museum, vertebrate paleontological field research is currently focused on the recovery of late Eocene and early Oligocene mammals and other vertebrates from fossil localities in the Birket Qarun, Qasr el-Sagha, and Jebel Qatrani Formations in the Fayum Depression of northern Egypt (see image below). The continental sediments in this area document at least 8 million years of terrestrial mammalian evolution, and have produced the most complete remains of Eocene-Oligocene anthropoid primates, rodents, proboscideans (elephants), embrithopods (extinct horned relatives of elephants and sea cows), macroscelideans (sengis or elephant-shrews), hyracoids, tenrecoids, creodonts, and anthracotheriid artiodactyls. A number of other mammalian groups, such as strepsirrhine primates, bats, ptolemaiids, and marsupials have also been recovered from the Fayum localities.
Quarrying at the earliest late Eocene (~37 million-year-old) Locality BQ-2. From left, Hesham Sallam (Oxford), Laura Stroik (Arizona State), Eugenie Barrow (Oxford), and Mohammed Magdi (Egyptian Geological Museum).