Scientists Spot the 'Most Dangerous Place in History'

100M years ago, Morocco was not for the faint of heart
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

Morocco looked a lot different 100 million years ago—and it wasn't too inviting. This according to scientists who studied fossils from southeastern Morocco and say the area was heavily populated with animals, including three of the biggest predatory dinosaurs ever discovered. "This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveler would not last very long," says lead author Nizar Ibrahim in a press release. Among the inhabitants were 25-foot-long predators like the sabre-toothed Carcharodontosaurus and the speedy raptor Deltadromeus, along with flying reptiles and hunters that resembled crocodiles. There were also fish "that would make an angler faint," says CNET.

"This place was filled with absolutely enormous fish, including giant coelacanths and lungfish," explains co-author David Martill. "The coelacanth, for example, is probably four or even five times large than today’s coelacanth. There is an enormous freshwater saw shark called Onchopristis with the most fearsome of rostral teeth, they are like barbed daggers, but beautifully shiny." The fossils came from a swath of Cretaceous rock formations called the Kem Kem group, which the researchers culled from collections around the world. "This is the most comprehensive piece of work on fossil vertebrates from the Sahara in almost a century," says Martill. On a related topic, the study's lead researcher rediscovered the massive Spinosaurus and discusses it in this Ted Talk. (More dinosaurs stories.)

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