The Authors

Mark Beech is an archaeologist interested in the prehistory of the Arabian peninsula. Since 2006 he has worked as Cultural Landscapes Manager in the Historic Environment Department at the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. He is team leader of the Abu Dhabi component of the Baynunah Paleontology Project team. He received his PhD from the University of York, UK, in 2001, his thesis work focusing on the history of fishing in the Arabian Gulf from the Neolithic to the Islamic period. He has carried out both archaeological and palaeontological fieldwork in Abu Dhabi since 1994. From 2002-2006 he was Senior Resident Archaeologist for the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey. In 2002 he discovered a major new Late Miocene fossil locality at Ruwais in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, this site yielding a number of important elephant fossils including a 2.45m long tusk of Stegotetrabelodon syrticus, and the lower jaws of an Amebelodon elephant. In 2009  Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, presented him with the Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Prize for Natural History for his services to UAE archaeology and natural history. [web page]

Faysal Bibi is interested in the evolution of mammals, particularly with regards to the emergence of modern ecosystems. He is director of the Baynunah Paleontology Project with Andrew Hill and has been leading expeditions to Abu Dhabi since 2003. He is a member of research teams working in Ethiopia (Omo, Middle Awash) and Kenya (with Andrew Hill) on the trail of human origins, and has also conducted fieldwork in the United States, Lebanon, and Mongolia (with Brian Kraatz). He received his PhD from Yale University in 2009, his thesis work focusing on the fossil record of antelopes. His favorite band at the time, however, was definitely Mastodon. From 2009 until late 2011, Bibi was a fellow of the US National Science Foundation and was based at the Institute de Paléoprimatologie, Paléontologie Humaine at the University of Poitiers, France. He is currently a Leibniz-DAAD fellow at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. [web page]

Nathan Craig is an archaeologist who uses analytical cartography to investigate ancient culture change. Craig received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his archaeological research focuses on the Andes. In 2008, Craig joined the faculty of Penn State. In 2009, he was awarded the American Council of Learned Societies Digital Innovation Fellowship. During this award he began applying structure from motion photogrammetry methods to collections of kite aerial photographs as an approach to recording large field sites. In 2010, Craig and Faysal Bibi were named Fine Outreach for Science Fellows. At this meeting they began discussing collaborations regarding the Melisa 1 track site. Craig first worked in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

Andrew Hill is interested in the evolution of apes and humans, and changes in faunas and environments associated with it.  As well as co-directing the Abu Dhabi project with Faysal Bibi, he is director of a long-running multidisciplinary research expedition in the Tugen Hills of Kenya.  He received his Ph.D. from the University of London, then held various positions in the National Museums of Kenya and the International Louis Leakey Memorial Institute of African Prehistory.  This was followed by a research fellowship at Harvard University.  He joined the faculty of Yale University in 1985, where he is now the Clayton Stephenson Professor of Anthropology, and Curator and Head of the Division of Anthropology in the Peabody Museum of Natural History.  He first worked in Abu Dhabi in 1984, and ran an expedition there with Peter Whybrow (Natural History Museum, London).  This phase of research culminated in The First International Conference on the Fossils Vertebrates of Arabia in 1995, and the publication of Fossil Vertebrates of Arabia in 1999 (Yale University Press).

Brian Kraatz is a vertebrate paleontologist trying to understand how mammalian communities have evolved over the last 65 million years, and what sorts of things drove these changes. He first worked on the fossil deposits of the Baynunah Formation with Faysal Bibi in 2003, and has since returned for three additional seasons. Currently, he is overseeing the small-mammal portion of the Baynunah Paleontological Project. Kraatz has also conducted paleontological field work work in Mongolia and Western North America. In 2007, he received his Ph.D. from the University of California – Berkeley, and continued from there as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Western University of Health Sciences. [web page]

Mathieu Schuster is a geologist, interested in continental sedimentary systems (lakes, deserts, rivers), primarily in Africa (Sahara and East African Rift System). He received his Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Strasbourg (France), for which he studied the paleoenvironments of the Chad basin (early hominid levels, paleo-desert, Lake Mega-Chad). He then worked at the University of Cologne (Germany), at the University of Western Brittany (Brest, France) and at the French Geological Survey (BRGM, Orléans). In 2006, he joined the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) with a position of research associate. After some years spent at iPHEP (University of Poitiers), he recently moved to a geosciences lab (Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg/Ecole et observatoire des Sciences de la Terre). There he joined a team of sedimentologists interested in linking paleoenvironment dynamics, sedimentary basins evolution and paleoclimates. His interest for the Abu Dhabi project grew from meeting Faysal Bibi during a field season in the lower Omo river valley (Ethiopia). His participation to the Abu Dhabi project started in 2010 and allowed him to investigate some of the paleoenvironments of the Shuwayat and Baynunah Formations.