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Remains of 80-Million-Year-Old Marine Reptiles Discovered From the Western Terrains of Saudi Arabia


31 May 2022


Remains of 80-Million-Year-Old Marine Reptiles Discovered From the Western Terrains of Saudi Arabia


31 May 2022


  • RSG partnered with the Saudi Geological Survey to carry out advanced geological and paleontological research across both The Red Sea and Amaala sites.
  • Fossils of giant Mosasaur – often called ‘The T-Rex of the Sea’ – among the notable discoveries from initial survey, with several dating back more than 80 million years.

Riyadh, (31 May 2022): Red Sea Global (formerly known as TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism projects, The Red Sea and Amaala, and the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), the main authority in geological exploration and mapping of the kingdom, have partnered for one of the largest surveys of the Red Sea area.

Findings from an initial 10-day dig, carried out by SGS paleontologists, revealed several significant findings and areas of interest - including the bones of an enormous marine lizard over 80 million years old.

The survey was the first step on a journey to uncover the rich history of the region and to provide geological research, data and expertise to assist with the design and construction process.

The parties intend to continue their work together to identify unique geological attractions for tourism, establishing the Red Sea as a destination where visitors can discover Arabia’s rich natural history.


"The spirit of adventure has always been tied to the essence of discovery. Our destination is already home to the site of Saudi Arabia’s first underwater excavation, but above the water, we are now finding geological and paleontological evidence of millions of years of activity in the region,"
said John Pagano, Group CEO of RSG.


"This partnership continues our commitment as a responsible developer to identifying, preserving, and displaying these natural treasures found right beneath our feet. Paleontology is a growing area of study within the Kingdom, and we are hoping to help support interest in discovering the ancient heritage buried along our coastline.”

he added.

The excursion along the Red Sea coast, unearthed various samples spanning from the late Cretaceous to the Eocene period - roughly 80 to 45 million years ago. Approximately half of the sites surveyed produced rare fossils, with researchers expecting to discover many more on future digs. The findings represent the first record of marine mammals from the Paleogene period to be found in the Red Sea coastal area.

Scientists exploring the Amaala site uncovered numerous fossilized remains of sea-cows, crocodiles and turtles, as well as bones of mosasaurs, a family of giant marine lizards commonly referred to as ‘The T-Rex of the Sea’ that existed between 80 and 66 million years ago and reached up to 18 meters in length and 14 tons in weight.

Several marine vertebrates found by the team were recorded for the very first time in the area – including remains of one of the largest turtles to have ever inhabited the region. These findings come in addition to a prior discovery of a partial plesiosaur skull recovered from the site.

Additional discoveries from younger sedimentary beds emerged during this phase of geological exploration in the area include vertebrate and invertebrate faunal assemblages of marine crocodiles and turtle bones, and massive colonies of coral reef barriers. This new information shows us that 20-16 million years ago the Red Sea depth was 200m above today’s actual sea level, and the seawater encroached and flooded deep inland by approximately 100 km over time.

In addition to paleontological findings, researchers identified signs of prehistoric human activity among the rocks of the crystalline basement at The Red Sea Project. These signs were in the form of prehistoric rock art thought to be petroglyphs produced by an ancient civilization yet to be identified.


“The rare finds from the central coastal areas of the Red Sea tell fascinating stories about the evolution of life in the region over the past tens of millions of years. Our partnership with TRSDC is helping us uncover the mysteries of these important and unexplored geological areas, highlighting the true extent of the historic value of the destination. I’m sure we’ll discover important landmarks for geology that tourists from around the world will want to see and learn about for themselves.”

the CEO of SGS, Engineer Abdullah Shamrani.

“This partnership between SGS and RSGintends to unveil important geological discoveries along the Red Sea region, and we are committed with our significant partner to protect and develop the priceless geological and historical heritage in the Kingdom to produce sustainable touristic destinations in accordance with the kingdom’s 2030 Vision,”

he added.

The partnership’s early successes testify to the historical significance of the Red Sea’s coastal waters. Over 1,600 historical and geological sites have already been identified within RSG’s development area, and future guests will have the opportunity to discover and explore current and emerging finds.

The Red Sea has already passed significant milestones and work is on track to welcome the first guests by the beginning of next year, when the first hotels will open. Phase one, which includes 16 hotels in total, will complete by the end of 2023.

Upon completion in 2030, The Red Sea Project will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include an international airport, luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, and leisure facilities.

Amaala is set across 4,155 sq. km. and due to welcome first guests in 2024. The destination is designed to create a one-of-a-kind global wellness hub and is underpinned by a commitment to sustainable development. The whole development is targeting a minimum LEED Gold standard for environmental sustainability.

About Red Sea Global

Red Sea Global (RSG - is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. It is a vertically integrated real estate developer with a diverse portfolio across tourism, residential, experiences, infrastructure, transport, healthcare, and services. This includes the luxury regenerative tourism destinations The Red Sea, which began welcoming guests in 2023, and AMAALA, which remains on track to welcome first guests in 2025. A third destination, Thuwal Private Retreat, will open this year, and RSG has also been entrusted with refurbishment works at Al Wajh Airport, focused on upgrading the existing terminal and infrastructure, and building a new international terminal. RSG is a cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to diversify its economy. Across its growing portfolio of destinations, subsidiaries, and businesses, RSG seeks to lead the world towards a more sustainable future, showing how responsible development can uplift communities, drive economies, and enhance the environment.

RSG is the visionary company behind some of the world’s most ambitious development ventures, including luxury regenerative tourism destinations such as The Red Sea and AMAALA.

Across its portfolio, RSG leverages the most innovative concepts, strategies, and technologies to deliver projects that actively enhance the wellbeing of customers, communities, and environments.

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