The Fossils

More Plesiosaurs

April 11, 2011

Ontem, um bloco recolhido em 2010 em Angola, pesando cerca de meia tonelada foi transportado para os laboratórios da Southern Methodist University (Texas) para ser preparado. O bloco contem um plesiossauro que, do que podemos compreender no campo, é um esqueleto praticamente completo incluindo o crânio. Faremos actualizações regulars dando conta do avanco da preparação do bloco.Todos os fósseis recolhidos pelo Projecto PaleoAngola são propriedade de Angola e serão repatriados assim que estiverem preparados e estudados.

Yesterday, a monolith collected in 2010 in Angola, weighing about a half  ton, was transported to the labs of the Southern Methodist University (Texas) to be prepared. This block contains a plesiosaur and from what we could tell in the field is much of the skeleton including the skull. We will post updates on the progress of the prepration.  All fossils collected by the PaleoAngola Project are property of the country of Angola and will be repatriated once they are prepared and studied for publication.


New Dinosaur from Angola

First Angolan dinosaur shows West Africa retained surprisingly relict form of long-necked dinosaur

Angolatitan adamastor, a new sauropod dinosaur, is the first dinosaur discovered in Angola. It is the only occurrence of these long-necked dinosaurs in sub-Saharan Africa of its geological age. An international team of paleontologists unveiled the newly discovered dinosaur fossil today.

The large plant-eating dinosaur was 13 meters long and lived 90 million years ago (Late Cretaceous Period). “To us, finding such a dinosaur in rocks of this age in Africa is extremely surprising” says paleontologist Octávio Mateus, who discovered the skeleton, “At the same time, it shows how little is known about the dinosaurs in this part of the globe – and how much there still remains to be discovered.”

The new dinosaur is known only from a forelimb, discovered in 2005 about 70 km north of Luanda by Mateus, who is at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museum of Lourinhã, in Portugal. Mateus is a dinosaur specialist and one of the members of Projecto PaleoAngola, an international team including paleontologists from Angola (Tatiana Tavares, Universidade Agostinho Neto), the US (Louis Jacobs and Michael Polcyn, SMU) and the Netherlands (Anne Schulp, Maastricht Natural History Museum).

The dinosaur bones were found in marine sediments, indicating that its carcass had been washed into the sea and scavenged by sharks and possibly by giant marine lizards called mosasaurs. The bones of the forelimbs allowed the researchers to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of the dinosaur in detail. Surprisingly, given its age of 90 million years, Angolatitan is the first and only known representative of this early lineage of long-necked dinosaur in this part of the world, as during the Cretacous Africa was considered to have been dominated by much more advanced “real” titanosaurian forms. Thus, Angolatitan adamastor was a relict species, a survivor of a much earlier time.

Although a plant-eater, Angolatitan lived in dry conditions along the ancient shore, because that area was arid during the Cretaceous, much like today’s Skeleton Coast. “These and other fossils tell us an amazing story about the climate and climate change in this part of the world,” says team member Louis Jacobs of Southern Methodist University, “in a oil-producing country like Angola, this project helps to understand the geology of the region and the implications for its richness”

The scientific name Angolatitan means “Angolan giant” and adamastor refers to the mythical sea giant of the South Atlantic feared by Portuguese sailors.

The PaleoAngola Project is a collaborative international scientific research programme focused on the ancient life of Angola. “The results of our fieldwork in the Cretaceous of Angola have been extraordinarily spectacular” says Jacobs. Besides the discovery of the first dinosaur of Angola the team has uncovered mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, turtles and other Cretaceous marine animals, but the aim is also to create a strong and lasting institutional and scientific collaboration that has a multiplier effect in Angolan academia.

The detailed description, in which the fossil receives its scientific name, is presented today in a publication in the Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências (Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences).



Plesiosaurs of Angola


A mitologia Angolana inclui bestas marinhas como o Kianda, um monstro que comia pessoas. No entanto, há muitos milhões de anos atrás (aproximadamente 69 milhões de anos) inúmeros répteis marinhos gigantescos cruzaram o mar ao largo da costa de Angola.

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