In the Kem Kem area 100 million years ago, “a human time-traveller would not last very long.”
Paleontologists uncovered fossils of various carnivorous dinosaurs in southeast Morocco’s Kem Kem beds, meaning that the region, which borders Algeria, was once home to some of the most dangerous dinosaur species in the world.
“This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveller would not last very long,” said the monograph’s lead author, Dr. Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Detroit Mercy.
The ZooKeys journal published the paleontology and geology monograph on April 21, co-authored by scholars from the United States, Europe, and Morocco. The researchers stressed that “no comparable modern terrestrial ecosystem exists with similar bias toward large-bodied carnivores.”
The newly-discovered dinosaurs highlighted in the paleontologists’ recent monograph were all large-species theropods, a group that includes all vertebrate and invertebrate meat-eaters.
Species such as the sail-backed Spinosaurus and the saber-toothed Carcharodontosaurus ruled over the area 100 million years ago, according to the researchers. The Carcharodontosaurus, a carnivore that somewhat resembles a giant crocodile, is unlike any reptiles we see today. The species had giant teeth measuring up to 8 inches and a body length of up to 12 meters.
Scientists believe that these huge reptilian predators fed on large supplies of fish in the vast river systems encompassing the Kem Kem Group, which is located in modern-day Morocco. Remains found in the region indicate the dinosaurs were some of the largest and most dangerous species in the history of the world.
Expeditions to uncover the mysteries of the Kem Kem region began in 1995 and continue today. The publication follows a March discovery by a team of Moroccan and American researchers. The paleontologists uncovered fossils of three previously-undiscovered flying reptile species, confirming the existence of a community of pterosaurs, during the Cretaceous period, in Morocco’s modern-day Western Sahara.
Scientists involved in the March discovery believe there are still many species to unearth in the region, calling the plethora of possibilities a new “golden age” for discoveries.