Carnivorous Dinosaur Fossils Unearthed in Egypt
(Photo Credit: dailynewsegypt)
By: Kimothy Wong / Arab America Contributing Writer
In the Bahariya Oasis depression of Egypt’s Western Desert, an Egyptian study team uncovered bones of a new species of large-bodied carnivorous dinosaurs that lived more than 98 million years ago.
The 6-meter dinosaur looks like the world’s most renowned, the “Tyrannosaurus rex.”
The Discovery of Abelisaurid
According to researchers, the well-preserved neck vertebra unearthed during a 2016 expedition to the enormous desert’s Bahariya Oasis belonged to an Abelisaurid theropod, a species that lived during the Cretaceous period (approximately 145 to 66 million years ago).
In addition to the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, the species was more abundant in areas of Europe and present Southern Hemisphere continents such as Africa and South America.
It is the first time that Abelisaurid remains have been discovered in Egypt. The species was named after Argentinean Roberto Abel, who found the first remnants of the species decades ago. It is the species’ oldest known fossil in northeastern Africa.
Fossils of other notable dinosaurs, like Spinosaurus, were discovered in the vicinity in the early twentieth century. Still, the samples were destroyed during the bombing of Munich during World War II.
The discovery of a smaller predatory dinosaur that would have lived alongside Spinosaurus has now been published in Royal Society Open Science by the US and Egyptian researchers.
The bones were discovered in 2016 in the same well-known fossil site in the Sahara Desert and date from the 98 million-year-old Bahariya Formation, placing the dinosaur in the middle Cretaceous.
The new dinosaur is an abelisaurid species that has yet to be named, and it is the first to be discovered in the Bahariya Formation.
Short-faced meat-eaters with small teeth, stocky rear limbs, and probable vestigial forelimbs, Abelisaurids are the ancestors of the dinosaurs.
The Carnotaurus, which has unique horns on each brow and is commonly seen in Europe and the southern hemisphere continents, is the most notable of the group.
The new abelisaurid, which was identified by a well-preserved neck vertebra, would have been about six meters long. Even though only one vertebra has been discovered, it is nearly identical to those found in other abelisaurids, making it simple to identify the new creature as a member of the family.
The new abelisaurid specimen joins Spinosaurus, the 13-meter-long Carcharodontosaurus, and the 11-meter-long Bahariasaurus in the group of huge predatory dinosaurs inhabited what is now the Egyptian Sahara in the middle Cretaceous. There were also enormous crocodiles in the region.
According to the researchers, the unexpected discovery has ramifications for Cretaceous dinosaur biodiversity in Egypt and northern Africa. It is the earliest known Abelisauridae fossil from northeastern Africa, demonstrating that during the mid-Cretaceous, these predatory dinosaurs roamed most of the northern section of the continent, east to west, from present-day Egypt to Morocco, and maybe beyond.
Professor Sallam and others have recently assured that Egyptian students take the lead in the research process. Students from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Palaeontology Centre (MUVP) in Mansoura, Egypt, led the field expedition and the follow-up laboratory study that resulted in the discovery of the new abelisaurid.
“Working with MUVP and its faculty and students, such as Belal Salem, continues to inspire me, as I see the next generation of paleontologists taking a prominent role in sharing their perspectives on our planet’s history,” says team member and Ohio University biomedical sciences professor Patrick O’Connor.
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