11 12 2016


Afrovenator abakensis – African hunter

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20 May 2016

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Edited: 26 May 2016

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Category: Dinosaurs / Jurassic / Predatory

Afrovenator abakensis – African hunter

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis)

African hunter from Abaka

Although it is known thanks to an almost complete skeleton fossil, its origin is still unclear. Paleontologists hope they will be able to recover more Afrovenator bones, which will positively dispel any doubts they are still having. However one thing is known for a fact – its physique indicates that this African theropod was really fast.

In this article you will learn about the ‘African hunter from Abaka’.

Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Clade: Dinosauria
  • Order: Saurischia
  • Suborder: Theropoda
  • Family: †Megalosauridae
  • Subfamily: †Afrovenatorinae
  • Genus:Afrovenator
  • Species: † Afrovenator abakensis

Dating

This dinosaur was first discovered in 1993 in the Agadez Region (northern Niger). Its fossilized remains were found in the Tiouranen geological formation. Shortly after the discovery this theropod was supposed to have lived in the Early Cretaceous, about 136 – 125 million years ago.

Repeated examination of the residue in which the Afrovenator fossils were found revealed that it lived in the Middle Jurassic, 164 – 161 million years ago.

Afrovenator abakensis

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis). Image credit: Sergey Krasovskiy.

Characteristics

Afrovenator known from a single skeleton was about 8 meters (26 ft) long from the head to the tail, with its weight hitting 1000 kg (2200 lb). Its overall physique was relatively delicate, its shanks and forelimbs were visibly elongated. Its jaws were long, zygomatic bones were short and deep, whereas the lacrimal bone transformed into a distinctive horn. As a result, Afrovenator was superficially very similar to many other theropods.

In the Jurassic the theropods were not very diversified, yet the Afrovenator jumped off the page with its long humeri, measuring about 40 cm. Apparently, considering all aspects of its physique, Afrovenator was perfectly built for running at high speeds. It was relatively light, considering its size, so it could catch an escaping target. It is also possible that it could hunt for sauropods such as Jobaria, yet there is no hard evidence for such state of matters.

Afrovenator abakensis

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis) – visualization (there is no evidence for it floundering in the water). Image credit: cheungchungtat.

Classification problems

From the point of discovery many classification problems emerged. Paleontologists assigned Afrovenator to various groups of theropods, including Allosaurs, Dubreuillosaurs, Eustreptospondyls or even the mighty Spinosaurs.

The main problem with classification is the poor fossil material – the species description is based on a single skeleton find. Finding more Afrovenator remains would surely help define the classification more precisely. Today we assume it belonged to the Megalosauridae family.

Afrovenator abakensis.

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis).

Detailed characteristic / size

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis)

  • Body length from snout to tail: 7-9 m (25.9-29.5 ft)
  • Weight: 1-2 tons (2204.6-4409 lb)
  • Teeth: 5 cm (1.9 in)
  • Dating: 164-161 million years ago
  • Period: Jurassic
  • Epoch: Middle Jurassic
  • Age: Bathonian – Oxfordian
  • Areas of occurrence: North Africa plains (Niger)
Afrovenator abakensis

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis) – one of the most complete theropod skeleton. Image credit: Scott Hartman.

Afrovenator – interesting facts

  • Name of the genus is a combination of Latin afer (African) and venator (hunter), whereas the name of the species relates to the place where the theropod remains were found – Agadez Region, which is called Abaka by the Touareg.
  • The skeleton of Afrovenator is one of the best preserved and most complete skeletons among known theropods.
Afrovenator abakensis

Afrovenator (Afrovenator abakensis) – notice the long forelimbs.

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