The Hadrosauridae, better known as “duck-billed dinosaurs”, are a very common ornithopod dinosaur family that has become extinct. We know from fossils that these creatures evolved in North America before eventually spreading across land bridges to South America, Asia, and Europe.
A team of paleontologists today announced the discovery of the remains (teeth and jaws) of one of these animals. It is 66 million years old and represents a brand new species called Ajnabia Odysseus. Its specialty? It was found in Africa. However, we know that at that time the African continent was isolated by sea routes.
“It’s like finding a kangaroo in Scotland”The discovery of the new fossil in a mine a few hours from Casablanca was, according to Dr. Nicholas Longrich of the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution, who led the study, may be “the last thing in the world”. “It’s like finding a kangaroo in Scotland.”
“Once you’ve done away with the impossible, whatever is unlikely has to be the truth,” the researcher continues, quoting Sherlock Holmes. “At that time it was impossible to go to Africa. These dinosaurs actually evolved long after the continental drift split the continents, and we have no evidence of land bridges. ”
A crossing while swimming or on raftsThe big question is also: how did this dinosaur, which was about ten feet long, get there?
“Given the existence of large persistent sea lanes isolating Africa and Europe from other continents, and the lack of the extensive bi-directional exchanges that characterize land bridges, these models suggest dispersions across sea barriers similar to those seen in Kenozoic mammals, reptiles, and amphibians we read in the study.
For the paleontologist, it is possible that this and probably other specimens reached the African coasts by either swimming in open water or hitchhiking on debris rafts.
The first hypothesis holds water. Indeed, as the researcher points out, these large-tailed and strong-legged dinosaurs were likely good swimmers. In addition, many associated bones have been isolated in river deposits. Even so, he points out that these animals had to travel hundreds of kilometers before reaching the coast.
The second hypothesis is also interesting. Ocean crossings on debris rafts are rare but have been documented. Green iguanas traveled between the Caribbean islands because of a hurricane. Ocean crossings also explain how lemurs and hippos came to Madagascar, or how monkeys crossed the Atlantic from Africa to eventually get to South America.
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Dinosaur, Africa, Hadrosauridae, Continent, Ocean, Ornithopoda
World news – GB – Duck-billed dinosaurs have crossed the sea to get to Africa