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Last African Dinosaur Discovered in Morocco

Chenanisaurus barbaricus
Credit: Dr Nick Longrich, Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath

Rabat – Researchers have found the remains of one of Africa’s last dinosaurs at a small phosphate mine in the Oulad Abdoun Basin.

University of Bath’s Dr Nick Longrich identified the jaw bone as coming from a Chenanisaurusbarbaricus, a dinosaur that belonged to the abelisaurs, a smaller relation of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

A paper published in the journal of Cretaceous Research at the beginning of May stated that the discovered Chenanisaurus stood on two legs and had extremely short arms. “The upper arm bone is short, the lower arm is shorter and they have tiny little hands.”

Unlike the Tyrannosaurus, which had some feathers, the Chenanisaurus only had scales, and had an “unusually short and robust jaw”.

The fossil’s teeth were also worn down, putting forward the idea that the Chenanisaurus was a predator.

Additionally, whilst the tyrannosaurs ruled North America and Asia, the abelisaurs were “the dominant predator in Africa, Europe, India and South America at the end of the Cretaceous period” until a huge asteroid wiped dinosaurs out 66 million years ago.

In collaboration with researchers from Morocco, France and Spain, Dr Longrich noted that because the dinosaur remains were found in marine rocks, the find was so rare it was “like winning the lottery”.

“We have virtually no fossils from this time period in Morocco – it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa.”

The fossils used in this study are currently in the Office Chérifien de Phosphates paleontological collection in Morocco.

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