Experts believe the dinosaur species traveled hundreds of kilometers across oceans to reach Africa.
Rabat – An international team of paleontologists discovered in Morocco a fossil of a previously-unknown dinosaur named Ajnabia odysseus, a member of the duckbill dinosaur family.
CNN reported last week that the new fossil might belong to a species who once traveled hundreds miles across oceans to reach Africa.
The dinosaur dates back to the end of the Cretacious era, about 66 million years ago.
The discovery shows that the species was smaller than other duckbill dinosaurs, whose length could reach up to 15 meters.
The fossils found in Morocco show measurements comparable to a pony, with a size of three meters.
CNN reported that the experts were surprised to find the fossils in Morocco, wondering how such species could reach Africa. The continent was a far-to-reach island, “completely isolated by deep sea during the Late Cretaceous.”
The duckbill family emerged in North America and spread to other continents, including South America, Asia, and Europe.
Senior lecturer at the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath Nicholas Longrich expressed astonishment at the new discovery, saying that it was “completely out of place.”
It was “like finding a kangaroo in Scotland, Africa was completely istated by water — so how did they get there?” the researcher, who is leading the study, said.
Experts following the new discovery said that Ajnabia odysseus belonged to the Lambeosaurine subfamily.
Ajnabia odysseus could have reached Africa though floating or swimming, they believe.
Longrich said: “It was impossible to walk to Africa. These dinosaurs evolved long after continental drift split the continents, and we have no evidence of land bridges. The geology tells us Africa was isolated by oceans. If so, the only way to get there is by water.”
Morocco was home to several paleontological research teams and fossil discoveries in recent years.
One of the recent discoveries was in October when a scientific paper revealed the discovery of a new winged dinosaur in Morocco.
The paper shows that the dinosaur was the size of a turkey.
Professor David Martill, one of the experts who discovered the dinosaur fossils, described the species as a “remarkable little pterosaur.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this little pterosaur before.”
The professor also described the shape of the new discovered dinosaur as bizarre.
“The bizarre shape of the beak was so unique, at first the fossils weren’t recognized as a pterosaur.”