Djurab Desert

The Djurab Desert (Djourab, جراب) is a desert in northern Chad.[1][2][3]. Part of the greater Sahara desert, it makes up much of the area of Chad's Borkou region.

Length500 km (310 mi)
Width500 km (310 mi)
Area200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi)
Age7 Ma
Coordinates17°N 18°E / 17; 18

The Koro Toro settlement and maximum security prison is situated on the eastern boundary of the desert. The closest major settlements are Salal to the south and Faya-Largeau to the northeast. To the west is the Ténéré desert (the Erg of Bilma) of western Chad and Niger, to the north are the Tibesti Mountains of the central Sahara.

Aeolian deflation in the northern subbasin formed the desert with an arid conditions.[4] Desert reached through Sahara and reduced Lake Chad.[4]

Many fossils have been found in this desert, Kossom Bougoudi and Toros-Menalla being among the most bountiful fossil-bearing areas.[5] A team led by Michel Brunet, from the University of Poitiers, excavated in the Djurab desert during the mid-1990s.[6][7]

In 2001, the type fossil of Sahelanthropus tchadensis, a hominid species of about 7 million years ago, was discovered at Toros-Menalla (16.25°N 17.5°E / 16.25; 17.5, some 100 km north of Salal), at 250 meters above sea level.[2][6][8] Michel Brunet, since 1994, has explored Miocene and Pliocene deposits in the desert with the Mission Paléoanthropologique Franco-Tschadienne, which are located in a basin which includes Lake Chad.[4] In the period of the Sahelanthropus tchadensis, desert would have long dry season, and fruits would have been able to grow at certain times of the year.[9]

Patrick Vignaud applied plaster to a crocodile cranium in this desert.[7]


  1. Gibbons, Ann (2006). "The Places: The Djurab Desert, Chad". The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors. Doubleday. p. 306. ISBN 9780385512268.
  2. Sarmiento et al. 2007, p. 30.
  3. Henke & Tattersall 2007, p. 537.
  4. Henke & Tattersall 2007, p. 350.
  5. de Bonis, Louis; Peginé, Stéphane; Mackaye, Hassane Taisso; Likius, Andossa; Vignaud, Patrick; Brunet, Michel (December 2008). "The fossil vertebrate locality Kossom Bougoudi, Djurab desert, Chad: A window in the distribution of the carnivoran faunas at the Mio–Pliocene boundary in Africa". Comptes Rendus Palevol. 7 (8): 571–581. doi:10.1016/j.crpv.2008.10.004.
  6. Parsell, D. L. (11 July 2011). "Skull Fossil Opens Window Into Early Period of Human Origins". National Geographic News. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  7. MPFT. "Dossier de Presse" (PDF). Centre national de la recherche scientifique. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  8. Miller, André (10 October 2002). "Toumai - of the Djurab desert of northern Chad". Université de Montréal. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  9. Sarmiento et al. 2007, p. 29.


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