Lecture: Cretaceous Dinosaur Hunting in North Africa

Speaker: Dr. David Martill, Portsmouth University

Entry Fee

Members: Free

Visitors: £5.00

Date and Time

19:00 -

Location

Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN


Lecture Description

In November 2008 a team of palaeontologists from Portsmouth University drove to Cassablance and met up with a Moroccan team of geologists and PhD student Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Dublin. Together we went into the northern Saharah to research the dinosaur-bearing strata of the Kem Kem. The snow was deep as we crossed the High Atlas and the rivers in the Sahara were swollen. A howling wind was blowing continually from the south and the team were chilled to the bone. Despite this, the expedition was an astounding success. We discovered remains of giant sauropods, theropods, crocodiles, and most exctingly, a new genus and species of toothless pterosaur.

The mid Cretaceous Kem Kem deposits of Morocco, and coeval beds elswhere in Saharan Africa have been yielding dinosaurs for nearly a century, but little science has been done on these remarkably rich deposits. This is about to change. Nizar is close to completing his Phd on the Kem Kem beds and plans are underway for another expedtion.

The sequence is dominated by fluvial sandstones, but passes upwards into lacustrine mudstones and eventually becomes a series of shallow water carbonates rich in fossil shells and small fishes. The sandstones contain bone beds of worn and eroded bone fragments, but also layers with articulated remains. Some erosion surfaces are littered with dinosaur teeth and Berber children actively seek these out to sell to passing tourists in Erfoud and Rissani. We now know of at least five different theropod dinosaurs from Morocco including the gigantic Spinosaurus and Carcharadontosaurus.

This talk introduces the Kem Kem dinosaurs and the environment they lived in, and provides a taste of what it is like to hunt dinosaurs in the Sahara Desert.



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