Scientists in Morocco have discovered one of the last dinosaurs that lived in Africa before going extinct 66 million years ago. Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK found the species of the dinosaur from a phosphate mine in Morocco.
The researchers discovered a rare fragment of a jaw bone from Sidi Chennane. They studied the fragment identified as belonging to an abelisaur. Two-legged predators just like the T rex and other tyrannosaurs, Abelisaurs were different as they had shorter, blunter snout and even tinier arms.
Abelisaurs dominated Africa, South America, India, and Europe 66 million years ago, while the tyrannosaurs were top predators in North America and Asia, researchers said.
The new species is called Chenanisaurus barbaricus, which was one of the last dinosaurs on Earth. Also, it was among those wiped out in an asteroid strike 66 million years ago, researchers said.
"Abelisaurs had very short arms. The upper arm bone is short, the lower arm is shorter, and they have tiny little hands," said Nick Longrich, from the University of Bath.
According to researchers, the teeth from the fossil were worn as if from biting into bone, suggesting that like T rex, Chenanisaurus was a predator.
However, unlike the partially feathered T rex, Chenanisaurus had only scales, its brain was smaller, and its face was shorter and deeper, they added.
Almost nothing is known about the dinosaurs that lived in Africa at the end of the Cretaceous period, just before they were wiped out by the impact of a giant asteroid.
At this time sea levels were high, and so most of the fossils come from marine rocks, researchers said.
"We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco - it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa," Longrich said.
"It is also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs," Longrich said.
(With inputs from PTI)