Royal Society Publishing

New dinosaurs link southern landmasses in the Mid–Cretaceous

Paul C. Sereno, Jeffrey A. Wilson, Jack L. Conrad


Abelisauroid predators have been recorded almost exclusively from South America, India and Madagascar, a distribution thought to document persistent land connections exclusive of Africa. Here, we report fossils from three stratigraphic levels in the Cretaceous of Niger that provide definitive evidence that abelisauroid dinosaurs and their immediate antecedents were also present on Africa. The fossils include an immediate abelisauroid antecedent of Early Cretaceous age (ca. 130–110 Myr ago), early members of the two abelisauroid subgroups (Noasauridae, Abelisauridae) of Mid–Cretaceous age (ca. 110 Myr ago) and a hornless abelisaurid skull of early Late Cretaceous age (ca. 95 Myr ago). Together, these fossils fill in the early history of the abelisauroid radiation and provide key evidence for continued faunal exchange among Gondwanan landmasses until the end of the Early Cretaceous (ca. 100 Myr ago).