London: One of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before their extinction 66 million years ago has been discovered in a Moroccan mine, scientists said on Thursday. Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK studied a rare fragment of a jaw bone discovered in the phosphate mines at Sidi Chennane. They identified it as belonging to an abelisaur.
Abelisaurs were two-legged predators like the dreaded T rex and other tyrannosaurs, but with a shorter, blunter snout, and even tinier arms. While the tyrannosaurs dominated in North America and Asia, the abelisaurs were the top predators at the end of the Cretaceous - 66 million years - ago in Africa, South America, India, and Europe, researchers said.
The new species - Chenanisaurus barbaricus - was of one of the last dinosaurs on Earth and among those wiped out when an asteroid hit 66 million years ago, researchers said. "Abelisaurs had very short arms. The upper arm bone is short, the lower arm is shorter, and they have tiny little hands," said Nick Longrich, from the University of Bath. The teeth from the fossil were worn as if from biting into bone, suggesting that like T-rex Chenanisaurus was a predator, researchers said.
However, unlike the partially feathered T-rex, Chenanisaurus had only scales, its brain was smaller, and its face was shorter and deeper, they added. Almost nothing is known about the dinosaurs that lived in Africa at the end of the Cretaceous period, just before they were wiped out by the impact of a giant asteroid. At this time sea levels were high, and so most of the fossils come from marine rocks, researchers said.
"We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco - it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa," Longrich said.
"It is also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs," Longrich said.
Updated Date: May 04, 2017 16:16:10 IST