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First Evidence of 'Bulldog-Faced' Dinosaur Found in Bahariya Oasis

Egyptian scientist Belal Salem, operating out of the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Center, led a new study about a unique discovery in the Bahariya Oasis.

What kind of dinosaurs roamed Egypt ages before it became the land of the pharaohs? Egyptian scientist Belal Salem, operating out of the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Center, led a new study about a unique discovery in the Bahariya Oasis, where palaeontologists uncovered the first piece of evidence that a bulldog-faced dinosaur called the Abelisaurid lived in the Sahara Desert 98 million years ago.

With a squashed skull, stubby arms, and a body the size of a school bus, the Abelisaurid was a massive predator named after Argentinian scientist Roberto Abel, who first discovered the fossil family in 1985. What’s interesting about the Abelisaurids is that they were among the most diverse large carnivorous dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period, and what’s interesting about THIS Abelisaurid in particular is that the Bahariya fossils are the oldest Abelisauridae remains found in northeastern Africa.

Belal Salem is a graduate student from Ohio University and a faculty member at Benha University. He published his study in the Royal Society Open Science today, June 8th, alongside Benha University’s Gamal M. El-Qot and Fatma Shaker, American University in Cairo’s Hesham M. Sallam,  Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency’s Wael A. Thabet, University of Michigan’s Sanaa El-Sayed, Ohio University’s Patrick M. O'Connor, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Matthew C. Lamanna.

The study is based on the discovery of the vertebra from the base of the neck, which was initially found amongst a diverse range of fossils in a 2016 dig of the Oasis, funded by the National Geographic Society.

The Bahariya Oasis is no stranger to intriguing discoveries as it has been a goldmine among palaeontologists, who uncovered a substantial number of fossils that educated the world about dinosaurs for the very first time (some of which got destroyed in the Munich bombings during World War II!). With new discoveries like these, Egyptian palaeontologists clear the path to learn even more about our prehistoric past.