00:57 GMT06 July 2020
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    The African region in question was apparently populated by some of the largest predatory dinosaurs known, as well as by "flying predatory reptiles" and "crocodile-like hunters", about 100 million years ago.

    While our planet was probably not a particularly hospitable place (at least from the human perspective) millions of years ago, when gigantic reptiles roamed Earth's surface, it appears that some areas were especially dangerous during that time.

    An international team of paleontologists who studied fossil vertebrates found in the so called Kem Kem Group, "an area of Cretaceous rock formations in south-eastern Morocco," postulates that Sahara was probably "the most dangerous place on Earth" due to an abundance of savage predators there, according to a news release issued by the University of Portsmouth.

    "This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveller would not last very long", said Dr Nizar Ibrahim, an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Detroit Mercy and lead author of the study.

    According to the release, the area in question featured a "vast river system" 100 million years ago, populated by a variety of aquatic and terrestrial creatures including three some of the largest predatory dinosaurs known, such as "the sabre-toothed Carcharodontosaurus (over 8m in length with enormous jaws and long, serrated teeth up to eight inches long) and Deltadromeus (around 8m in length, a member of the raptor family with long, unusually slender hind limbs for its size)".

    Other denizens of that region also included "predatory flying reptiles (pterosaurs)" and "crocodile-like hunters".

    As study co-author Professor David Martill from the University of Portsmouth explained, many of these predators relied on the abundance of fish in the area for sustenance.

    "This place was filled with absolutely enormous fish, including giant coelacanths and lungfish. The coelacanth, for example, is probably four or even five times large than today’s coelacanth," he said. "There is an enormous freshwater saw shark called Onchopristis with the most fearsome of rostral teeth, they are like barbed daggers, but beautifully shiny."

    Professor Martill also described their study as "the most comprehensive piece of work on fossil vertebrates from the Sahara in almost a century", stressing the importance of "shedding light on Africa’s ancient past", as the news release puts it.

    Tags:
    study, dinosaurs, Morocco, Africa
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