'Last African dinosaur' discovered in Moroccan mine

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BATH, BRITAIN (REUTERS) - Meet Chenanisaurus Barbaricus - one of the last dinosaurs living in Africa just before the asteroid impact that wiped them out 66 million years ago, and only just discovered.

A fossilised piece of jawbone was the only clue to its existence, but it was enough for Dr Nick Longrich at the University of Bath in England to realise its importance

"We have a pretty good picture of the dinosaurs from North America for this time period...but we don't have a good picture of what's going on in the rest of the world and we know almost nothing about the African dinosaurs from this time period," said Dr Longrich, of the Milner Centre for Evolution. "So it's the first named dinosaur from the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa in fact."

The fossil was found in a phosphate mine in Morocco - but it's related the North American T-Rex - albeit a lot smaller than its ferocious famous relative.

It's a discovery that may end debate over whether or not the dinosaurs were thriving just before the asteroid brought about their mass extinction.

"It's interesting to see evidence confirming that dinosaurs remained successful and the fauna stayed pretty stable up until the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa," said Dr Longrich.

"So I think there is no evidence as far as I'm concerned of a decline in dinosaur diversity approaching the extinction and if it hadn't been for this accident we would probably still have dinosaurs here today."

However, Dr Longrich says one mystery may never be answered - why Chananisaurus had even smaller arms than T-Rex.

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