Crocodile remains from the Burdigalian (lower Miocene) of Gebel Zelten (Libya)


en Geodiversitas 26 (2) - Pages 309-321

Published on 25 June 2004

The Gebel Zelten locality in Cirenaica, North Central Libya (Burdigalian, lower Miocene) has yielded numerous fossil remains of crocodilians. Although fragmentary in nature, several forms can be distinguished, among them the longirostrines Euthecodon arambourgi Ginsburg & Buffetaut, 1978 and Tomistoma lusitanica Antunes, 1967 and the brevirostrine Rimasuchus lloydi Fourtau, 1918. There are also other remains present in the collections from this locality that cannot be assigned with confidence to any known crocodilian species due to their fragmentary condition. Nevertheless, these remains indicate the presence of at least one additional taxon, a previously unidentified brevirostrine form differing from Rimasuchus lloydi in the morphology of its lower jaw. The crocodilian fauna from this locality shows similarities with that from the Burdigalian of Wadi Moghara (Egypt), pointing to the existence of a crocodilian assemblage in North Africa during the early Miocene, showing both forms endemic to the African continent (Euthecodon arambourgi, Rimasuchus lloydi) and forms that were also present at that time all around the Mediterranean basin and Asia (Tomistominae and Gavialoidea). The presence of crocodilians in North Africa at that time also indicates the existence of a tropical, warm and humid climate, before the onset of more arid conditions in the region that led to the disappearance of the crocodilians and the development and expansion of the Sahara desert.


Reptilia, Crocodylia, Crocodylidae, Tomistomina, Burdigalian, Gebel Zelten, Libya, North Africa, climate

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