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Africa's New Fossil Frontier

Could the African nation of Angola be the next hot spot for paleontology? According to the BBC, the recent cessation of Angola's civil war has allowed paleontologists to start working in the country again. As the news company states, the country seems to be a new "fossil frontier" that is brimming ...

The reconstructed limb of a sauropod dinosaur. From Flickr user quantumdtell.


Could the African nation of Angola be the next hot spot for paleontology? According to the BBC, the recent cessation of Angola's civil war has allowed paleontologists to start working in the country again. As the news company states, the country seems to be a new "fossil frontier" that is brimming with the petrified remains of ancient creatures as yet unknown to scientists.

Many of the fossils that have been found in Angola so far have been from fish, turtles, sharks and extinct forms of marine reptiles like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs. Many of these fossils are sticking out of the ground, just waiting to be picked up, and there may be some new dinosaurs to find, too. In 2005, the paleontologist Octavio Mateus from Portugal's New Lisbon University found elements from the front leg of a sauropod dinosaur. While the rest of the skeleton remains elusive, Mateus has stated his confidence that more dinosaur fossils will soon come to light.

Access to fossil sites is very important to paleontology. Paleontologists not only want to understand what the past was like at one particular place, but what the whole world was like in the prehistoric past. In order to do this paleontologists must study numerous sites from various ages at places all over the world, the more the better, and who knows what new secrets the Angola deposits might turn up?
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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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