CHICAGO - The fossil skull of a peculiar, wrinkle-faced dinosaur unearthed four years ago in a remote Sahara Desert region of Niger is providing new evidence that Africa split from the other southern continents more recently than previously thought, scientists say.
The skull, found amid a wealth of dinosaur bones from the Late Cretaceous period, came from a dinosaur named Rugops primus, or "first wrinkle face." The meat-eating creature, believed to be about 30 feet long and 95 million years old, belonged to a group of southern dinosaurs called abelisaurids.
Before the discoveries in 2000, abelisaurids from that period had been found in South America, Madagascar and India, but none had been confirmed on Africa, supporting a theory that Africa split off first from the southern super-continent of Gondwana 120 million or more years ago. The new fossil indicates Africa was connected to the other southern land masses, at least by land bridge, 100 million years ago, said University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno, co-author of the report to be published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. sourcehttp://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001942869_ndig30.html