Scientists Might've Found the Most Dangerous Place in Earth's History

Daisy Hernandez
·2 min read
Photo credit: Davide Bonadonna
Photo credit: Davide Bonadonna

From Popular Mechanics

  • In a new paper, researchers pinpoint what may have been the “most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth.”

  • Researchers analyzed fossils from the Kem Kem beds in southeastern Morocco and found that the area used to be home to some ferocious creatures.

100 million years ago, Earth was a terrifying place. That's according to a new paper in ZooKeys, which analyzed fossils from an area in southeastern Morocco also known as the Kem Kem beds. It was here that prehistoric animals such as “cartilaginous and bony fishes, turtles, crocodyliforms, pterosaurs, and dinosaurs” used to freely roam and hunt.

These creatures might not sound like anything out of the ordinary, but the local fauna also tended to be quite massive and ferocious. A news release reveals that among some of the fossils analyzed were “three of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever known.” They included the sabre-toothed Carcharodontosaurus saharicus, Deltadromeus agilis (a quick-moving raptor), and “crocodile-like hunters.”

Photo credit: Stocktrek Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stocktrek Images - Getty Images

According to Nizar Ibrahim, lead author and researcher, “this was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth.”

These fearsome beasts dined frequently on other massive—but lower—members of the food chain. David Martill, a professor of paleobiology at the University of Portsmouth and paper co-author, says that the nearby river system contained enough “absolutely enormous fish, including giant coelacanths and lungfish” to sustain piscivorous predators.

Today, coelacanths—which are quite rare—can grow up to 200 pounds. For comparison, Martill says that prehistoric coelacanths were “probably” between four and five times larger than their descendants.

Photo credit: SIMON MAINA - Getty Images
Photo credit: SIMON MAINA - Getty Images

Many of the Kem Kem fossils date back to the Cretaceous period, but there is disparity among researchers about when certain species would have been around so long ago. According to the paper, some believe that the fossils “as a whole represent a ‘compound assemblage’ derived from two formations or from disparate paleoenvironments.”

Still, one thing researchers do agree on is that the Kem Kem collection is one of the most comprehensive groups of fossils to come out Africa.

The paper point out that “the Kem Kem vertebrate assemblage...captures the taxonomic diversity of a widespread northern African fauna better than any other contemporary assemblage from elsewhere [on the continent].”

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