- Monday, 09 July 2018
The ~37 million-year-old fossil site Birket Qarun Locality 2 (BQ-2) was discovered in the year 2000 and was worked continuously (in 2001-2002 with Leakey Foundation support) until 2012 by a team from Duke University and Stony Brook University that operated in the Fayum area in collaboration with the Egyptian Geological Museum.
BQ-2 has yielded some of the most important (and by far the most complete) fossils that document the first phase of anthropoid evolution in Afro-Arabia, the first known members of the clade that contains lemurs and lorises, as well as new members of radiation of anthropoid-like adapiforms that was previously not well documented. More than any other site of its age in Africa, fossils from BQ-2 have fundamentally changed our understanding of primate evolution. Unfortunately since that time the area around BQ-2 —which, unlike other Fayum quarries, is very close to a densely populated area (Kom Aushim, which is part of the larger city of Fayum) — has seen intense development, including the construction of a four-lane highway that runs only about. half a kilometer from the fossil site. In the past few months, it has been announced that land along the northern shore of Birket Qarun (where BQ-2 is located), which was previously considered to protected, is now going to be sold off by the government to developers, meaning that all of the important fossils still entombed at these levels are in imminent danger of destruction. The Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP) is running a salvage mission that would allow for the extraction of major parts of the BQ-2 quarry that would be prepared at the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP) facility and studied by a team of researchers from MUVP, the University of Southern California, and Duke University, among others.