Duckbill Dinosaurs were Probably Powerful Swimmers, Researchers Suggest

Duckbill dinosaurs, evolved in North America, according to the University of Bath, UK. They have also eventually spread to South America, Asia, and Europe. Since Africa was an island continent in the Late Cretaceous, it seemed impossible for the duckbill dinosaurs to set foot the continent.

But guess what?

It was recently revealed by a team of researchers from the University of Bath, Universidad del País Vasco, The George Washington University, Sorbonne Université, and University Cadi Ayyad; that fossils of a duckbilled dinosaur have been discovered in Africa and that a study about it has been made.

“It was completely out of place, like finding a kangaroo in Scotland. Africa was completely isolated by water – so how did they get there?”

– Dr. Nicholas Longrich, of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, lead author of the study

Does it mean that dinosaurs, specifically Duckbills, were able to cross oceans?

“The first fossils of a duckbilled dinosaur have been discovered in Africa, suggesting dinosaurs crossed hundreds of kilometers of open water to get there,” stated the University of Bath in a press release published on Thursday, November 5, 2020.

The said study reports the new dinosaur called the Ajnabia odysseus, a member of the duckbill dinosaurs. Its name came from Ajnabi, the Arabic for “foreigner”, and Odysseus referring to the Greek seafarer. Compared to its kin, this new dinosaur was tiny at just 3 meters long.

Ajnabia’s distinctive teeth and jawbones have been studied and the study revealed that it belonged to a subfamily of duckbills with elaborate bony head crests called the Lambeosaurinae. According to the researchers, Lambeosaurs evolved in North America before spreading to Asia and Europe, but have never been found in Africa before.

“Because Africa was isolated by deep oceans at the time, duckbills must have crossed hundreds of kilometres of open water- rafting on debris, floating, or swimming,” explained the University of Bath. They also stated that Duckbills were probably powerful swimmers since they had large tails and powerful legs.

“As far as I know, we’re the first to suggest ocean crossings for dinosaurs,” said Longrich.

About the Study

Looking for more information about this mind-blowing discovery? The study is called “The first duckbill dinosaur (Hadrosauridae: Lambeosaurinae) from Africa and the role of oceanic dispersal in dinosaur biogeography”  was published in Cretaceous Research on November 2, 2020.

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Source: Science Alert, University of Bath, Cretaceous Research| Science Direct

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