Some land-dwelling dinosaurs were capable swimmers. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Lisa Andres
A chance fossil discovery in Morocco has indicated that some dinosaurs swam vast distances across the sea.
The discovery of a duck-billed dinosaur fossil in a mine near Casablanca has been described as "like finding a kangaroo in Scotland" by study leader Dr. Nicholas Longrich from the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath, England.
The fossil belongs to a species known as Ajnabia - a type of duck-billed plant-eater that grew up to 15 meters long and was native to North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
The most notable aspect of this particular find however is the fact that during the Cretaceous, Africa was an island continent separated from the rest of the world by an extensive ocean.
"[The fossil is] about the last thing in the world you would expect," said Dr Longrich. "It was completely out of place... Africa was completely isolated by water - so how did they get there ?"
To have made its way there, this dinosaur must have crossed hundreds of kilometers of open ocean.
It might seem incredible but it's not that much of a stretch - the species was likely good at swimming and the animals could have taken advantage of driftwood to help them cross.
"Sherlock Holmes said, once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth," said Dr. Longrich.
"It was impossible to walk to Africa. These dinosaurs evolved long after continental drift split the continents, and we have no evidence of land bridges."
"The geology tells us Africa was isolated by oceans. If so, the only way to get there is by water."
Source: Phys.org | Comments (1)
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