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Vertebrate palaeontology of the Kem Kem Beds, Morocco and palaeoecology of North Africa
 
SVPCA Conference
 
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
Authors
 
*Lahssen Baider
 
 
Gareth J Dyke
 
 
Nizar Ibrahim
 
 
Nour-Eddine Jalil
 
 
Fouad Ouanaimi
 
 
Remmert Schouten
 
 
Samir Zouhri
 
Abstract
 
The ?Cenomanian Kem-Kem beds of Morocco form part of the 'Continental Intercalaire' (Lavocat, 1954), and extend across much of North Africa. Sedimentary features indicate a very large northward-trending river network similar to contemporaneous deltaic environments from Egypt and Tunisia (Benton et al., 2000; Smith et al., 2001).

As part of an ongoing Irish–Moroccan research project we have sampled fossil vertebrate remains along a 120km north-south transect, at the base of large cross-bedded sandstone units. The fossils collected were then placed into a spatial and stratigraphic database, as part of a comparative analysis across the whole of North Africa. Such an analysis is very important, as many published records are based on purchased specimens, with no information on the geological context (Dal Sasso et al., 2005). Many fossils also disappear in private collections – the scale of ‘fossil hunting’ in some areas became apparent during our fieldwork. The fossils found include remains of fish, crocodiles, turtles, sauropod and theropod dinosaurs, pterosaurs and birds. A range of preservation styles can be found, with contrasting bone taphonomy, surface diagenesis and articulation.

North-African dinosaur assemblages are very different from most known dinosaur sites in their faunal composition. Based on the literature, large multi-ton predators are found in greater numbers than in any other known dinosaur ecosystem. Several explanations are suggested.

This research project aims to correlate data from different areas in North Africa and to understand the wider context of the North African Late Cretaceous, biogeographically an important time in the evolution of a number of vertebrate groups (Sereno et al., 1994; 1996).

London 2020