End Of The War Opens 'Jurassic Park' Of Angola To

Monday, November 7, 2011

Angola is best known for oil and diamonds, but dinosaur hunters say their "museum in the country," just rare fossil - some are very important in the country - waiting to be discovered.

"Angola is the last frontier of paleontology," said Louis Jacobs of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, part of the PaleoAngola project, which is hunting for dinosaur fossils.

"Because of the war, there has been little research done so far, but now it will end, and there are so many things to find.

"In some areas, there are literally fossils overhanging rocks. It 's like a museum in the country."

The first reports of dinosaur remains in Angola were made in the 1960's, but a bloody liberation struggle against the Portuguese, followed by three decades of civil war covered the country of landmines and is off limits to researchers.

Peace Agreement of 2002, however, the country is literally opening of fossil hunters, who are putting together the past Jurassic.

The main results to date was made in 2005 when Octavio Mateus, of the New University of Lisbon, also part of the PaleoAngola project, retrieved five bones in the left foreleg of a sauropod dinosaur on the side IEMBA.

Since then, most skulls and skeletons discovered by PaleoAngola team were turtles, sharks and plesiosaurs and mosasaurs water - which is more closely related to snakes than the dinosaurs.

One of the mosasaur species has even been called Angolasaurus.

The aim of the excavations so far have been along the north coast of Luanda and Namibe province, where the desert sand cliffs drop dramatically below the ocean, with seams of fossil fuels embankments.

But Mateus, who also works with researchers from the Natural History Museum of Maastricht, believes sauropod bones are just the beginning.

"We believe that there are more dinosaurs are found, we only need space and the means to dig for them," he said.

"Angola is a wonderful fossils. In some places this is the best in the world of fossils. We keep finding new animals, so it's always exciting to be here," he added.

Many results of the fossil rich Angola dramatic continental shift tens of millions of years, which saw the country transformed from desert to tropics.

Today the country is tropical in the north of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and arid desert in the south where it meets Namibia.

The researchers hope that fossils will help to reveal more about continental shifts, and to create a more precise date in which what is now separated from South America and Africa of the South Atlantic was born.

"Fossils can date as the animals migrate from one place to another and how the continents moved over time," said Mateus.

"From fossils we can work when terrestrial animals were no longer able to cross from Africa to South America and the sea animals," he said.

The rocks are also a reference to the time when creatures like mosasaurs and dinosaurs were probably driven to extinction by the effects of a large asteroid that crashed into the ocean near Mexico 68 million years.

"You can see where the lava flew into the wet sand, then next, where he flew over the dry land, and he gives us an indication of when different things happened for millions of years," Mateus said.

The project is funded PaleoAngola of the National Geographic Society and the Foundation for Research on U.S. Oil and works with Agostinho Neto University in Luanda and the Private University of Angola, in Lubango.

Jacobs, who once led to Kenya's national museum of paleontology, said the project also aims to train scientists in Angola ", so in the long run, they can run their show."

"Angola should be able to use their own unique resources in museums to teach future generations of your country and the world.

"And who knows, the very long term, it can be a tourist attraction."

For more information related to dinosaurs, visit rareresource.com.


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