The pre-historic wonders of Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis continue to unravel as an Egyptian team of paleontologists, led by Hesham Sallam, have discovered the fossil of a new dinosaur, announced the American University in Cairo (AUC).
The team, led by Sallam, an associate professor at AUC and founder of Mansoura University’s Vertebrate Paleontology Center (MUVP), unearthed a new species of theropods, three-toed, large carnivorous dinosaurs.
“However, the vertebra described in the new paper belongs to an abelisaurid, a kind of bulldog-faced, short-armed theropod that had not been discovered in the oasis before and that is estimated to have been roughly six meters (20 feet) in body length,” explained Belal Salem, who led and published the study of the excavation along with fellow academics from MUVP and Ohio University.
Abelisaurids, a family of the dinosaur species, are most recognized through the Carnotaurus species, and in mainstream media through the ‘Jurassic World’ films and David Attenborough’s ‘Prehistoric Planet’.
Bahariya Oasis, located in the Western Desert of Egypt, is brim with prehistoric fossils, leading to a plethora of dinosaur discoveries – from Spinosaurus, Bahariasaurus and Carcharodontosaurus, to the new unnamed species.
“About 98 million years ago, the Bahariya Oasis was not known by this name. Rather, it was the ‘Dinosaur Oasis’ in every sense of the word. It was an oasis teeming with life, in which bloody fights prevailed between different animals and moreover dinosaurs. The dinosaurs lived along the banks of the oasis, by an ancient river known as the ‘Giant River’ — where one of the largest carnivorous and also herbivorous dinosaurs lived,” described Sallam.
A devastating asteroid impact may have led to their extinction 66 million years ago, but dinosaurs remain a global phenomenon in the modern world. Centuries of paleontological efforts have led to the discoveries of several species, yet very few are discovered in Africa.
However, Egypt’s paleontologists aim to reverse the rarity, as they continue to unearth the secrets of Egypt’s fossil sites. In 2018, Sallam’s MUVP announced the discovery of Mansourasaurus, a new dinosaur species, following an expedition in the Dakhla Oasis.
“In terms of Egyptian dinosaurs, we’ve really just scratched the surface. Who knows what else might be out there,” concludes Sallam.