(ORDO NEWS) — Paleontologists have discovered a well-preserved neck vertebra of a medium-sized abelisaurid theropod dinosaur in the Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert of Egypt.
The find is the first fossil of this family of dinosaurs, both in Egypt and throughout Northeast Africa as a whole, but this species has not yet received its own name.
Abelisaurids belonged to the group of ceratosaurs, these predatory bipedal lizards were distinguished by their characteristic “armless” and “bulldog” muzzles: their forelimbs were rudimentary, and the skull was short, and above the eyes there were bony crests.
This family is considered one of the most diverse and widespread geographically – in the Cretaceous period they occupied all the southern land masses that were then part of the Gondwana supercontinent, and now they are found in South America, continental Africa, India, Madagascar and Europe, however Until now, unequivocal evidence of the existence of abelisaurids in Egypt and in general in Northeast Africa has not been found.
The described fossil – a vertebra from the base of the neck – was found in 2016 in the Egyptian Bahariya Formation, its owner lived about 98 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous era. Apparently,
“During the mid-Cretaceous period, the Bahariya oasis was one of the scariest places on the planet,” says lead author Belal Salem, a graduate student at Ohio University.
How it was possible to coexist and find food for all those huge predators, the remains of which were found here, remains a mystery. Although, probably, they have adapted to hunt different prey.
This community of predators is abelisaurids, spinosaurids (in the illustration above, their representative is in the center, abelisaurids are on the right), carcharodontosaurids, bachariasaurids, etc. – apparently spread to most or all of North Africa in the Cenomanian – this is the lowest tier of the Upper Cretaceous, 93.9-100.5 million years ago.
Apparently, the Trans-Saharan Sea Route at that time did not represent a serious barrier to the dispersal of large theropods, the authors of the article believe.
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