Finally on the outcrops!

Today was a great day.  A good nights sleep, good Angolan coffee at breakfast, getting our supplies organized, and then off to the outcrops of Bentiaba.  We have two new crew members with us this year.  They are grad students at the New University of Lisbon, working on plesiosaur and pterosaur material collected at Bentiaba.  To orient them, we started the day with an overview of the geological section and visiting all the major localities in the area.  The famous Bench 19 locality, with its incredible fossil wealth, represents only about 240 thousand years, set in the Lower Maastrichtian, or about 72 million years ago.  However,  the Mesozoic section in this area ranges from about 130 million years ago to about 66 million years ago, and preserves the remarkable record of the separation of Africa and South America and the early opening of the South Atlantic, so there was a lot of ground to cover.  

Lower Cretaceous sediments north of Bentiaba.

At one of the stops, our plesiosaur worker, Miguel Marx found a mosasaur skull, weathering out in the Upper Campanian part of the section, between Bench 2&3, in our published stratigraphic scheme (Strganac et al., 2014).  This is one of the oldest mosasaurs from this area and the first with skull material preserved. Vertebrates are generally more rare in this part of the section, so this is truly a significant find.  Miguel and fellow grad student Alexandra Fernandes, determined its stratigraphic position and did some preliminary triage of the specimen, which will be excavated at a later date. We ended the day with a visit to the Bench 19 locality, relocating the Globidens phosphaticus skeleton we found in 2017.  We will start the excavation of that specimen tomorrow morning.

Grad students Miguel Marx and Alexandra Fernandes triage a mosasaur skull, low in the section at Bentiaba.

Strganac, C., Salminen, J., Jacobs, L.L., Polcyn, M.J., Ferguson, K.M., Mateus, O., Schulp, A.S., Morais, M.L., da Silva Tavares, T. and Gonçalves, A.O., 2014. Carbon isotope stratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, and 40Ar/39Ar age of the Cretaceous South Atlantic coast, Namibe Basin, Angola. Journal of African Earth Sciences99, pp.452-462.location

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