Fossils in Saudi Arabia

fossil 5                    fossil 3

I was visiting friends recently and learned something new and at least to me, quite fascinating.  Fossils are in abundance in the Kingdom and pretty easy to find as well.  My friends, who are fellow Americans, have always enjoyed searching for fossils wherever they live or travel.  Through them, I have learned the Kingdom is an ideal place to go out and about and search for fossils.  In fact, quoting from the “Tour Saudi Arabia” web site ( “The low ridge of the hills east of Khurais, about 2.5 hours east of Riyadh, contain the fossilized remains of the marine life deposited about 45 million years ago.”  The King Abdulaziz Museum in the heart of old Riyadh also has a wing dedicated to the history of civilization and this wing has on display incredible fossils which have been discovered at various places throughout the Kingdom.

fossil 1


Now going back to my friends, they showed me jar upon jar filled with various fossils that they found in and around Riyadh.  In no case did they drive for more than one hour.  They would usually drive to an area where the terrain would change from the flat desert and instead have more “solid hills” which were made of packed sands and rocks.  At the base of these hills they would simply walk around looking at the ground beneath their feet.  In many cases, they came home with multiple handfuls of fossils.  The images chosen with this post are representative of the types of fossils found here in the Kingdom.

fossil 2          fossil 4



For more information about fossils in Saudi Arabia, please see the following links:  This link describes the results of a joint Saudi-Australian team who undertook a survey of the vertebrate fossil potential of the Jilh Formation.  This link describes their mission, survey, results and is accompanied by photos of the fossil formations discovered. This link describes how many fossils have been discovered during the quest for oil.  It also continues with specific details about the locations of and types of fossils found in the Kingdom.


13 Responses

  1. Wow – this is really interesting to know! Will have to remember this and perhaps take a trip out to the desert some time soon as my 10 year old is fascinated by fossils!

  2. Umm Ibrahim,

    If you are located in Riyadh, take the Mecca Road. As you start to go outside the Riyadh city limits and past the “bridge” you’ll see that the terrain changes. This is an ideal area to stop and stroll around and likely find a variety of fossils.


  3. Thanks for the info… now to persuade the hubby that it would be a nice thing to do! 😆

  4. Now this is definitely a fascinating addition to your ”things to do in Riad”-list!
    I never got over my dinosaur and fossil-madness! 🙂

  5. I agree Aafke…I think there remains that part of “Kid” in all of us mesmerized by the dinosaur era!

    Again, with a little digging (no pun intended) there is a lot more to do in Riyadh than may initially meet the eye.

  6. I found the most wonderful fossilized seashells in sheep pens near where you visit to see “the irises of Tumayr.” I still have them, and wonder at them – they are so marvellous!

  7. I am kicking myself as I had an opportunity recently to go see the “irises of Tumayr” and had a conflict which prevented me from getting there!

  8. So had to know about the ”Irises of Tumayr” of course, and I found only two pictures!!! But also a very nice site on riyad with lots of pictures.
    And yes, you’ve really missed out on something!! 🙂

  9. […] I simply must share a recent weekend experience.  I had written earlier about friends of mine who go out and weekends and search for fossils.  (  […]

  10. Hi – I saw the fossil article Fossils in Saudi Arabia
    March 9, 2008 by American Bedu.

    I’m a keen diver and would love a readable copy of the black and white fossil shell identification sheet copied at the start of the article.

    If anyone can help that would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Sheryl

  11. Sheryl,

    I found the sheet when I did a search via google images for “fossil.”

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