New species of carnivorous dinosaur found in the Sahara Desert

(ORDO NEWS) — Ninety-eight million years ago, the Sahara Desert was a marshy riverbank teeming with dinosaurs. Now, another unusual predator has been added to the famous Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus.

The Bahariya Formation in western Egypt is a unique site that has preserved the fossils of many fish and reptiles that inhabited northern Africa in the early Cretaceous period , about 98 million years ago.

Among the most famous finds from Bahariya are a fish-eating spinosaurus with a “sail” along the spine, a flat-faced crocodile stomatosuchus, which filtered a fish-eating spinosaurus with a “sail” along the spine, a flat-faced crocodile stomatosuchus , which filtered small animals from the water, like a whale, and a giant long-necked paralititan , reaching length of 26 meters and weight of 45 tons.

Against the background of such outstanding animals, a relatively small predatory dinosaur, about six meters long and weighing about a ton, does not look so remarkable.

However, there is one “but”: this is the first representative of abelisaurids – unusual carnivorous dinosaurs that flourished in the Cretaceous period throughout the southern hemisphere. They differed from northern tyrannosaurids in having a shortened skull, stocky hind legs, and tiny front legs.

Of the new species of dinosaurs, only a single cervical vertebra, found back in 2016, has survived. So far, scientists have not given a name to the new species, but they have unequivocally identified the fossil as belonging to an abelisaurid, since the shape and structural features of the vertebra practically repeat the shape and structure of the vertebrae of other, more fully preserved abelisaurids, such as the South American carnotaurus .

It turns out that at least four species of large carnivorous dinosaurs coexisted in northern Africa in the early Cretaceous: while the Spinosaurus hunted fish in the water, the 12-meter Carcharodontosaurus and Bahariasaurus were the dominant land predators like the “cougar” and “wolf”, and the unnamed abelisaurid, judging by throughout, he hunted for smaller prey and the remains of food of large predators, playing the role of a “coyote”.

New species of carnivorous dinosaur found in the Sahara Desert 2
The only preserved abelisaurid bone is the tenth cervical vertebra

Surprisingly, there were not so many herbivorous dinosaurs found in the Bahariya Formation – only three species of long-necked sauropod dinosaurs , which is very few for such a number of carnivores. How did all these predators get along with each other?

This probably happened due to the division of habitats: spinosaurs were consumers of fish and other aquatic animals like small crocodiles, while terrestrial dinosaurs could trade in everything that came across to them “under their paw” – from a turtle thrown ashore to a stray from a herd of paralititans.

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