Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM
LATE CRETACEOUS VERTEBRATES FROM THE NILE VALLEY, EGYPT
Latest Cretaceous (Campanian-?Maastrichtian, ~70Ma) African tetrapods are very poorly known, and are best represented by a few finds from Dahkla and Kharga oases and the Nile Valley near Mahamid, Egypt. Most of the Nile Valley record was amassed by E. Stromer and colleagues in the early 20th Century. As with Stromer's collection from the Cenomanian (~97Ma) of Bahariya Oasis, the majority of his Nile Valley fossils (including all tetrapods) were destroyed during WWII (46 specimens, mostly fish teeth, remain). Several specimens were subsequently described by S.E. Nakkady, but their present location is uncertain. As problematic, later authors have had difficulty in pinning down from which specific stratigraphic horizon the remains came, and beginning with Stromer's papers, ages ranging from Cenomanian to Maastrichtian have been applied to the strata in question (this has been complicated by landscape modifications from phosphate mining in the last decade). No Cretaceous rocks older than Campanian are currently thought to crop out near Mahamid. In March of 2005, as the initial phase of a new project to better understand the latest Cretaceous of Egypt in the western and eastern deserts, we prospected the Upper Cretaceous nearshore and coastal sequence (the Campanian Nubia Formation and the overlying Maastrichtian Duwi Formation) exposed in the Mahamid area to the east of the Nile. We identified productive horizons at the base of the Duwi and discovered phosphatic bonebeds in the upper Quseir Member of the Nubia. The most promising of the Quseir localities is 25.9 meters below the base of the Duwi and provides us with precise stratigraphic information for Nile Valley Cretaceous fossils for the first time. The material from the Duwi consists of shark and fish teeth. At the Quseir localities we discovered shark, bony fish, and mosasaur teeth, as well as turtle, crocodyliform, and putative dinosaur remains. Preservation quality is very good and as the tetrapods are among youngest the known from Africa, the Mahamid area looks to be quite promising.