An Egyptian research team discovered fossils of a new kind of large-bodied meat-eating dinosaurs that lived more than 98 million years ago in the Bahariya Oasis depression of Egypt’s Western Desert.
The 6-metre dinosaur is very similar to the “Tyrannosaurus rex” which is the most famous dinosaur in the world.
In a joint field trip by researchers from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Center (MUVP) and the Egyptian Ministry of Environment in the Bahariya Oasis, the team found a fossil of a vertebra covered with solid deposits of iron and sand, according to the results of the study published on 8 June in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
Researchers conducted detailed anatomical studies on the discovered fossil, which took several years. After removing the sediments and restoring the fossil, it was found that it represents the tenth cervical vertebra of the neck of a huge carnivorous dinosaur.
Fortunately, this type of vertebra combines enough anatomical features to indicate that it belongs to a member of a family of dinosaurs called Abelisauridae (meaning Abel lizards or Abel dinosaurs).
The name “Abel” is named after Roberto Abel, the Argentinian scientist who discovered the first fossils of this family of dinosaurs, according to AUC Prof. Hisham Sallam, the founder of the MUVP and head of the Egyptian research team in the study.
Sallam explained that the dinosaurs belonging to the “Abel” family are distinguished by their terrifying shape and skull, with sharp teeth coming out of their jaws similar to the blades of knives. Their hind feet show a huge muscle mass to help them attack and prey, despite the shortness of their front ends to the point of atrophy. These dinosaurs were among the fiercest of all.
“About 98 million years ago, Bahariya Oasis was not known by this name. Rather, it was the “Dinosaur Oasis” in every sense of the word. It was an oasis of life, in which bloody conflicts prevailed between different animals and on top of it were dinosaurs. The dinosaurs of that oasis lived along the banks of an ancient river known as the “Giant River”, where one of the largest carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaurs lived,” said Sallam.
The dinosaurs “Abel” were roaming the ancient southern continents (Gondwana) and Europe, so the research team compared that fossil discovered in the Bahariya Oasis with its counterparts from different continents, and the results of the genealogical tree showed a close relationship between the Egyptian dinosaur “Abel” and his peers from South America.
Belal Salem, MUVP member, graduate student in Ohio University, and lead author of the study, pointed out that, in contrast to the fierce “T-Rex” dinosaurs that lived in North America, the “Abel” dinosaurs roamed the ancient southern continents (Gondwana) and Europe.
“But the similarity between the T-Rex and Abel in strength and ferocity made the scientific community nicknamed the Abel family as the T-Rex of the ancient southern continents,” Salem explained.
Bahariya Oasis has always been known for its richness in fossils, as it produced the skeletons of the most famous dinosaurs in the world. However, no dinosaur belonging to the Abel family has been recorded in Bahariya Oasis before.
“Therefore, the new study reveals important secrets about the ancient life in the region by recording a medium-sized predatory dinosaur among the rest of its family, and the medium-sized among the members of his clan of Bahariya Oasis dinosaurs,” Salem added.