|Middle neck vertebra, specimen CMN 50791|
Sigilmassasaurus was a carnivorous theropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Africa. Its name means ''Sijilmassa lizard", referring to the name of the city near the place where its fossils were found. Its species name "brevicollis" is Latin for "short neck", because the neck bones of the animal are very short.
Discovery[change | change source]
It was found and named by a Canadian paleontologist called Dale Russel in 1996, he found the fossils in Morocco at a fossil site called the Kem Kem Formation. The rocks the skeleton was found in are as old as the Cenomanian, which is the earliest stage of the Late Cretaceous Period, 100 to 94 million years ago.
Paleoecology[change | change source]
Several large predatory dinosaurs weighing more than one tonne are known from the Late cretaceous of North Africa, this made paleontologists wonder how so many of them would have lived together. Sigilmassasaurus existed in the same time and place as other huge meat-eating dinosaurs like Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Deltadromeus, and Bahariasaurus. The situation is a lot like in the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of North America, where there were up to five meat-eating dinosaurs weighing more than a tonne, as well as many smaller ones. The difference between their sizes and what they ate could explain why they could live so close to each other, scientists compared this to how predatory animals live alongside each-other in the African savanna.