The Sahara was the “most harmful place on Earth” – ZME Science

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Round 100 million years in the past, the Sahara was teeming with ferocious predators on land, by way of the skies, and in its waterways.

Picture credit Nizar Ibrahim et al., (2020), ZooKeys.

The findings come from a overview of the fossil vertebrates present in Cretaceous rock formations (the Kem Kem Group) in south-eastern Morocco. The authors clarify that that is the biggest most inclusive overview on the topic carried out on the subject within the final century and gives a novel view into the dinosaur species that roamed Africa.

Toothy occasions

“This was arguably probably the most harmful place within the historical past of planet Earth, a spot the place a human time-traveller wouldn’t final very lengthy,” says lead creator Dr. Nizar Ibrahim, an Assistant Professor of Biology on the College of Detroit Mercy and Visiting Researcher from the College of Portsmouth.

The Sahara wasn’t at all times a wind-swept desert. Round 100 million years in the past, earlier than the dinosaurs found meteorites, the realm was really fairly lush. The group explains {that a} huge river system irrigated the land, and an amazing number of land and aquatic species made a house right here.

Fossils recovered from the Kem Kem Group (which consists of two distinct formations, the Gara Sbaa Formation and the Douira Formation) embrace three of the biggest species of predatory dinosaurs ever discovered, the group explains, such because the saber-toothed Carcharodontosaurus (which grew to over 8m in size and sported serrated tooth as much as eight inches lengthy), Deltadromeus (a raptor species that grew to round 8m in size), a number of species of carnivorous, flying pterosaurs, and crocodile-like stalkers.

In line with co-author David Martill, a professor on the College of Portsmouth, the realm’s bountiful populations of big fish helped feed the wealth of predators.

“This place was crammed with completely monumental fish, together with big coelacanths and lungfish. The coelacanth, for instance, might be 4 and even 5 occasions massive than in the present day’s coelacanth. There is a gigantic freshwater noticed shark known as Onchopristis with probably the most fearsome of rostral tooth, they’re like barbed daggers, however fantastically shiny.”

The paper “Geology and paleontology of the Higher Cretaceous Kem Kem Group of japanese Morocco” has been revealed within the journal ZooKeys.

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