A mini-T Rex was one of the last dinosaurs to roam across Africa before the ancient creatures were wiped out 66 million years ago, new research reveals.
Palaeontologists discovered fossil evidence of the dinosaur in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco last year.
Now, the researchers have published the first study of the new species, which has been named Chenanisaurus barbaricus.
The paper reveals the dinosaur is a type of abelisaur, a smaller African contemporary of North America’s Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Like tyrannosaurs, abelisaurs were two-legged predators, but with shorter, blunter snouts and even tinier arms.
While the tyrannosaurs dominated in North America and Asia, abelisaurs were the top predators at the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa, South America, India and Europe.
Nick Longrich of the University of Bath likened the discovery to winning the lottery: “This find was unusual because it’s a dinosaur from marine rocks - it’s a bit like hunting for fossil whales and finding a fossil lion.
“It’s an incredibly rare find - almost like winning the lottery.
“But the phosphate mines are so rich, it’s like buying a million lottery tickets, so we actually have a chance to find rare dinosaurs like this one.”
Very little is known about the dinosaurs that lived in Africa just before their extinction, making this find all the more remarkable.
Longrich added: “We have virtually no dinosaur fossils from this time period in Morocco - it may even be the first dinosaur named from the end-Cretaceous in Africa.”