Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

A Large Abelisauroid Theropod Dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Libya

  • Joshua B. Smith (a1), Matthew C. Lamanna (a2), Achmed S. Askar (a3), Khalid A. Bergig (a4), Sefau O. Tshakreen (a4), Miloud M. Abugares (a4) and D. Tab Rasmussen (a5)...

Despite increasingly intensive paleontological sampling, Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates from continental Africa remain relatively poorly known, frustrating efforts to characterize paleoecosystems in the region, as well as the paleobiogeography of the southern continents during this interval. Here we describe the partial skeleton of a large-bodied theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous (early Aptian, ~125-120 Ma) of Libya. The specimen consists of associated elements (two incomplete dorsal vertebrae, a proximal caudal centrum, a partial proximal caudal neural arch, the distal right femur, and the mostly complete right tibia) and is referable to the widespread ceratosaurian clade Abelisauroidea. The discovery adds to the growing record of abelisauroids from mainland Africa, and firmly establishes the presence of the clade on the continent prior to its final separation from South America. Indeed, the age of the Libyan theropod predates or is penecontemporaneous with the accepted timing of fragmentation of most major Gondwanan landmasses, supporting the hypothesis that abelisauroids could have dispersed throughout the southern continents before land connections between these areas were severed. Moreover, the considerable size of the Libyan form challenges assertions that abelisauroids were ecologically subordinate to basal tetanuran theropods in Early and middle Cretaceous paleoenvironments of Gondwana.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. R. Ali and J. C. Aitchison 2009. Kerguelen Plateau and the Late Cretaceous southern-continent bioconnection hypothesis: tales from a topographical ocean. Journal of Biogeography, 36:17781784.

R. Allain , R. Tykoski , N. Aquesbi , N.-E. Jalil , M. Monbaron , D. A. Russell , and P. Taquet 2007. An abelisauroid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Jurassic of the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco, and the radiation of ceratosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27:610624.

P. E. Anderson , M. J. Benton , C. N. Trueman , B. A. Paterson , and G. Cuny 2007. Palaeoenvironments of vertebrates on the southern shore of Tethys: the nonmarine Early Cretaceous of Tunisia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 243:118131.

G. Barale and M. Ouaja 2002. La biodiversité végétale des gisements d'âge Jurassique supérieur-Crétacé inférieur de Merbah el Asfer (Sud-Tunisien). Cretaceous Research, 23:707737.

R. C. Blakey 2008. Gondwana paleogeography from assembly to breakup—a 500 million year odyssey, p. 128. In C. R. Fielding , T. D. Frank , and J. L. Isbell (eds.), Resolving the Late Paleozoic Ice Age in Time and Space. Geological Society of America Special Paper 441.

J. S. Bridge , G. A. Jalfin , and S. M. Georgieff 2000. Geometry, lithofacies, and spatial distribution of Cretaceous fluvial sandstone bodies, San Jorge Basin, Argentina: outcrop analog for the hydrocarbon-bearing Chubut Group. Journal of Sedimentary Research, 70:341359.

J. I. Canale , C. A. Scanferla , F. L. Agnolin , and F. E. Novas 2009. New carnivorous dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of NW Patagonia and the evolution of abelisaurid theropods. Naturwissenschaften, 96:409414.

M. T. Carrano , S. D. Sampson , and C. A. Forster 2002. The osteology of Masiakasaurus knopfleri, a small abelisauroid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22:510534.

M. T. Carrano and S. D. Sampson 2008. The phylogeny of Ceratosauria (Dinosauria: Theropoda). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 6:183236.

R. A. Coria , L. M. Chiappe , and L. Dingus 2002. A new close relative of Carnotaurus sastrei Bonaparte 1985 (Theropoda: Abelisauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22:460465.

C. J. Duffin 2001. The hybodont shark Priohybodus d'Erasmo, 1960 (Early Cretaceous, northern Africa). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 133:303308.

R. B. Irmis 2007. Axial skeleton ontogeny in the Parasuchia (Archosauria: Pseudosuchia) and its implications for ontogenetic determination in archosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27:350361.

D. W. Krause , P. M. O'Connor , K. Curry Rogers , S. D. Sampson , G. A. Buckley , and R. R. Rogers 2006. Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates from Madagascar: implications for Latin American biogeography. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 93:178208.

M. C. Lamanna , R. D. Martínez , and J. B. Smith 2002. A definitive abelisaurid theropod dinosaur from the early Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22:5869.

H. A. Leanza , S. Apesteguía , F. E. Novas , and M. S. de la Fuente 2004. Cretaceous terrestrial beds from the Neuquén Basin (Argentina) and their tetrapod assemblages. Cretaceous Research, 25:6187.

L. Mahler 2005. Record of Abelisauridae (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Cenomanian of Morocco. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25:236239.

P. J. Makovicky , Y. Kobayashi , and P. J. Currie 2004. Ornithomimosauria, p. 137150. In D. B. Weishampel , P. Dodson , and H. Osmólska (eds.), The Dinosauria, Second Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley.

N. J. Mateer , P. Wycisk , L. L. Jacobs , M. Brunet , P. Luger , M. A. Arush , F. Hendriks , T. Weissbrod , G. Gvirtzman , E. Mbede , A. Dina , R. T. J. Moody , G. Weigelt , H. A. El-Nakhal , J. Hell , and J. Stets 1992. Correlations of nonmarine Cretaceous strata of Africa and the Middle East. Cretaceous Research, 13:273318.

L. A. Nessov , V. I. Zhegallo , and A. O. Averianov 1998. A new locality of Late Cretaceous snakes, mammals and other vertebrates in Africa (western Libya). Annales de Paléontologie, 84:265274.

F. E. Novas , S. de Valais , P. Vickers-Rich , and T. Rich 2005b. A large Cretaceous theropod from Patagonia, Argentina, and the evolution of carcharodontosaurids. Naturwissenschaften, 92:226230.

F. E. Novas , I. de Souza Carvalho , L. C. Borges Ribeiro , and A. H. Méndez 2008. First abelisaurid bone remains from the Maastrichtian Marília Formation, Bauru Basin, Brazil. Cretaceous Research, 29:625635.

P. M. O'Connor , M. D. Gottfried , N. J. Stevens , E. M. Roberts , S. Ngasala , S. Kapilima , and R. Chami 2006. A new vertebrate fauna from the Cretaceous Red Sandstone Group, Rukwa Rift Basin, southwestern Tanzania. Journal of African Earth Science, 44:277288.

M. A. O'Leary , E. M. Roberts , J. J. Head , F. Sissoko , and M. L. Bouaré 2004. Titanosaurian (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) remains from the ‘Continental Intercalaire’ of Mali. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24:923930.

J.-C. Rage and H. Cappetta 2002. Vertebrates from the Cenomanian, and the geological age of the Draa Ubari fauna (Libya). Annales de Paléontologie, 88:7984.

O. W. M. Rauhut , G. Cladera , P. Vickers-Rich , and T. H. Rich 2003. Dinosaur remains from the Lower Cretaceous of the Chubut Group, Argentina. Cretaceous Research, 24:487497.

D. A. Russell 1995. China and the lost worlds of the dinosaurian era. Historical Biology, 10:312.

S. D. Sampson , L. M. Witmer , C. A. Forster , D. W. Krause , P. M. O'Connor , P. Dodson , and F. Ravoavy 1998. Predatory dinosaur remains from Madagascar: implications for the Cretaceous biogeography of Gondwana. Science, 280:10481051.

S. D. Sampson , M. T. Carrano , and C. A. Forster 2001. A bizarre predatory dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Nature, 409:504506.

C. R. Scotese 2004. A continental drift flipbook. Journal of Geology, 112:729741.

P. C. Sereno , J. A. Wilson , H. C. E. Larsson , D. B. Dutheil , and H.-D. Sues 1994. Early Cretaceous dinosaurs from the Sahara. Science, 266:267271.

P. C. Sereno , D. B. Dutheil , M. Iarochene , H. C. E. Larsson , G. H. Lyon , P. M. Magwene , C. A. Sidor , D. J. Varricchio , and J. A. Wilson 1996. Predatory dinosaurs from the Sahara and Late Cretaceous faunal differentiation. Science, 272:986991.

P. C. Sereno , J. A. Wilson , and J. L. Conrad 2004. New dinosaurs link southern landmasses in the Mid-Cretaceous. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 271:13251330.

P. C. Sereno and S. L. Brusatte 2008. Basal abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Niger. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 53:1546.

J. B. Smith , M. C. Lamanna , K. J. Lacovara , P. Dodson , J. R. Smith , J. C. Poole , R. Giegengack , and Y. Attia 2001. A giant sauropod dinosaur from an Upper Cretaceous mangrove deposit in Egypt. Science, 292:17041706.

J. B. Smith and F. M. Dalla Vecchia 2006. An abelisaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) tooth from the Lower Cretaceous Chicla Formation of Libya. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 46:240244.

J. B. Smith and M. C. Lamanna 2006. An abelisaurid from the Late Cretaceous of Egypt: implications for theropod biogeography. Naturwissenschaften, 93:242245.

X. Xu , J. M. Clark , J. Mo , J. Choiniere , C. A. Forster , G. M. Erickson , D. W. E. Hone , C. Sullivan , D. A. Eberth , S. Nesbitt , Q. Zhao , R. Hernandez , C.-K. Jia , F-L. Han , and Y. Guo 2009. A Jurassic ceratosaur from China helps clarify avian digital homologies. Nature, 459:940944.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Paleontology
  • ISSN: 0022-3360
  • EISSN: 1937-2337
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-paleontology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 83 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.