Paleobiogeographic evolution and distribution of Carcharodontosauridae (Dinosauria, Theropoda) during the middle Cretaceous of North Africa




Carcharodontosauridae, Gondwana, Middle Cretaceous, North Africa, Overlap.


Over the last few decades, the systematics and evolution of carcharodontosaurids, a group of large predatory dinosaurs, from North Africa have been better understood mainly due the discovery of new species. We review this record here and discuss its importance for understanding the evolution and ecology of these dinosaurs. North Africa has one of the best records of carcharodontosaurid species. These species show dietary specializations and paleogeographic distributions similar to other top predatory theropods such as Abelisauridae and Spinosauridae. However, carcharodontosaurids have a wider distribution than other large theropods. The middle Cretaceous of North Africa was characterized by the niche overlap between large predators. This evidence increases our understanding of the evolution of Carcharodontosauridae in a highly competitive region, a conjuncture rarely reported for large top predators.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

  • Carlos Roberto dos Anjos Candeiro, Universidade Federal de Goiás (UFG), Laboratório de Paleontologia e Evolução (LABPALEOEVO), Curso de Geologia.
    Rua Mucuri, s/nº, Área 03, Setor Conde dos Arcos, Campus Aparecida de Goiânia, CEP 74969‑017, Aparecida de Goiânia, GO, Brasil.
  • Sthepen Louis Brusatte, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, School of GeoSciences.
    James Hutton Road, Edinburgh EH9 3FE, Scotland.
  • Luciano Vidal, Universidade Federal de Goiás (UFG), Laboratório de Paleontologia e Evolução (LABPALEOEVO), Curso de Geologia.
    Rua Mucuri, s/nº, Área 03, Setor Conde dos Arcos, Campus Aparecida de Goiânia, CEP 74969‑017, Aparecida de Goiânia, GO, Brasil.
  • Paulo Victor Luiz Gomes da Costa Pereira, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Instituto de Geociências (IGEO), Departamento de Geologia, Laboratório de Macrofósseis.
    Avenida Athos da Silveira Ramos, 274, Bloco G, Cidade Universitária, CEP 21941‑916, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil.


Amiot, R.; Buffetaut, E.; Lécuyer, C.; Wang, X.; Boudad, L.; Ding, Z. & Zhou, Z. 2010. Oxygen isotope evidence for semi-aquatic habits among spinosaurid theropods. Geology, 38(2): 139‑142.

Benson, R.B.J.; Barrett, P.; Rich, T.H. & Vickers-Rich, P. 2010. A southern tyrant reptile. Science, 327: 1613‑1613.

Benson, R.B.J.; Campione, N.E.; Carrano, M.T.; Mannion, P.D.; Sullivan, C.; Upchurch, P. & Evans, D.C. 2014. Rates of dinosaur body mass evolution indicate 170 million years of sustained ecological innovation on the avian stem lineage. PLoS Biology, 12(5): e1001853.

Brusatte, S.L. & Sereno, P.C. 2007. A new species of Carcharodontosaurus (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Cenomanian of Niger and a revision of the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27(4): 902‑916.

Brusatte, S.L.; Benson, RJ.B.; Carr, T.D.; Williamson, T.E. & Sereno, P.C. 2007. The systematic utility of theropod enamel wrinkles. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27:1052‑1056.

Brusatte, S.L. & Sereno, P.C. 2008. Phylogeny of Allosauroidea (Dinosauria: Theropoda): comparative analysis and resolution. Journal of Systematic Paleontology, 6(2): 155‑182.

Brusatte, S.L.; Benson, R.B.J.; Chure, D.J.; Xu, X.; Sullivan, C. & Hone, D. 2009. The first definitive carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from Asia and the delayed ascent of tyrannosaurids. Naturwissenschaften, 96: 1051‑1058.

Brusatte, S.L.; Norell, M.A.; Carr, T.D.; Erickson, G.M.; Hutchinson, J.R.; Balanoff, A.M.; Bever, G.S.; Choiniere, J.N.; Makovicky, P.J. & Xu, X. 2010a. Tyrannosaur paleobiology: new research on ancient exemplar organisms. Science, 329: 1481‑1485.

Brusatte, S.L.; Chure, D.J.; Benson, R.B.J. & Xu, X. 2010b. The osteology of Shaochilong maortuensis, a carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of Asia. Zootaxa, 2334: 1‑46.

Buffetaut, E. & Ingavat, R. 1986. Unusual theropod dinosaur teeth from the Upper Jurassic of Phu Wiang, northeastern Thailand. Paléobiologie, 5: 217‑20.

Buffetaut, E.; Martill, D.M. & Escuillié, F. 2004. Pterosaurs as part of a spinosaur diet. Nature, 430: 33.

Candeiro, C.R.A. 2015. Middle Cretaceous dinosaur assemblages from northern Brazil and northern Africa and their implications for northern Gondwanan composition. Journal South American Earth Sciences, 61: 147‑153.

Candeiro, R.; Fanti, F.; Therrien, F. & Lamanna, M. 2011. Continental fossil vertebrates from the mid-Cretaceous (Albian-Cenomanian) Alcântara Formation, Brazil, and their relationship with contemporaneous faunas from North Africa. Journal African Earth Sciences, 60: 79‑92.

Carrano, M.T.; Benson, R.B.J. & Sampson, S.D. 2012. The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda). Journal of Systematic Paleontology, 10: 211‑300.

Cau, A.; Dalla Vecchia, F.M. & Fabbri, M. 2012. Evidence of a new carcharodontosaurid from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 57: 661‑665.

Cavin, L.; Tong, H.; Boudal, L.; Meister, C.; Piuza, A.; Tabouelle, J.; Aarab, M.; Buffetaut, E., Dyke, G.; Huag, S. & Loeuff, J.L. 2010 Vertebrate assemblages from the early Late Cretaceous of southeastern Morocco: an overview. Journal African Earth Sciences, 57: 391‑412.

Charig, A.J. & Milner, A.C. 1986. Baryonyx, a remarkable new theropod dinosaur. Nature, 324: 259‑361.

Charig, A.J. & Milner, A.C. 1997. Baryonyx walkeri, a fish-eating dinosaur from the Wealden of Surrey. Bulletin of Natural History Museum, 53: 11‑70.

Chen, Z.; Li, Z.X.; Powell, C.M. & Balme, B.E. 1993. Paleomagnetism of the Brewer Conglomerate in central Australia, and fact movement of Gondwanaland during the Late Devonian. Geophysical Journal International, 115: 564‑574.

Coria, R.A. & Currie, P.J. 2002. The braincase of Giganotosaurus carolinii (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22: 802‑811.

Coria, R.A. & Currie, P.J. 2006. A new carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina. Geodiversitas, 28: 71‑118.

Coria, R.A. & Salgado, L.A. 1995. New giant carnivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous of Patagonia. Nature, 377: 224‑226.

Cuff, A.R. & Rayfield, E.J. 2013. Feeding mechanics in spinosaurid theropods and extant crocodilians. PLoS ONE, 8(5): e65295.

Currie, P.J. & Zhao, X. 1993. A new carnosaur (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Jurassic of Xinjiang, People’s Republic of China. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 30(10): 2037‑2081.

Dal Sasso, C.; Maganuco, S.; Buffetaut, E. & Mendez, M.A. 2009. New information on the skull of the enigmatic theropod Spinosaurus, with remarks on its sizes and affinities. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25: 888‑896.

Depéret, C. & Savornin, J. 1927. Sur la découverte d’une faune de vertébrés albiens à Timimoun (Sahara occidental). Compentus Renduns Academie Science Paris, 181: 1108‑1111.

Eddy, D.R. & Clarke, J.A. 2011. New Information on the Cranial Anatomy of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis and its Implications for the Phylogeny of Allosauroidea (Dinosauria: Theropoda). PLoS ONE, 6: e17932.

Fanti, F. 2009. Cretaceous continental bridges, insularity, and vicariance in the southern hemisphere: which route did dinosaur take? In: Fanti, F. & Spalletta, C. (Eds.). International conference on Vertebrate Palaeobiogeography and continental bridges across Tethys, Mesogea, and Mediterranean Sea. Abstract Book. Bologna, Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini. 2 pp.

Fanti, F. 2012. Cretaceous continental bridges, insularity, and vicariance in the southern hemisphere: which route did dinosaurs take? In: Talent, J. (Ed.). Earth and Life: Global biodiversity, extinction intervals and biogeographic perturbation trough time. London, Springer. p. 883‑911.

Gatesy, J. & Amato, G. 2008. The rapid accumulation of consistent molecular support for the intergeneric crocodilian relationships. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48: 1232‑1237.

Hendrickx, C. & Mateus, O. 2014. Abelisauridae (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Late Jurassic of Portugal and dentition-based phylogeny as a contribution for the identification of isolated theropod teeth. Zootaxa, 3759.

Holtz, T.R. 2004. Tyrannosauroidea. In: Weishampel, D.B.; Dodson, P. & Osmólska, H. (Eds.). The Dinosauria. 2.ed. Berkeley,University of California Press. p. 111‑136.

Ibrahim, N.; Sereno, P.C.; Dal Sasso, C.; Maganuco, S.; Fabbri, M.; Martill, D.M. & Iurino, D.A. 2014. Semiaquatic adaptations in a giant predatory dinosaur. Science, 345(6204): 1613‑1616.

Kellner, A.W.A. 2004. On a pterosaur neck with a dinosaur tooth: scavenging or predation? Natura Nascota, 29: 37‑39.

Kitchener, A. 1987. Function of Claws’ claws. Nature, 325: 114.

Krause, D.W.; Prasad, G.V.R.; von Koenigswald, W.; Sahni, A. & Grine, F.E. 1997. Cosmopolitanism among Gondwanan Late Cretaceous mammals. Nature, 390: 504‑507.

Lindoso, R.M.; Medeiros, M.A.A.; Carvalho, I.S. & Marinho, T.S. 2012. Masiakasaurus-like theropod teeth from the Alcântara Formation, São Luís Basin (Cenomanian), northeastern Brazil. Cretaceous Research, 36: 119‑124.

Lü, J.; Xu, L.; Pu, H.; Jia, S.; Azuma, Y.; Chang, H. & Zhang, J. 2014. Paleogeographical significance of carcharodontosaurid teeth from the late Early Cretaceous of Ruyang, Henan Province of central China. Historical Biology, 25: 1‑6.

Machado, E.B. & Kellner, A.W.A. 2005. Notas sobre Spinosauridae (Theropoda, Dinosauria). Anais do Instituto de Geociências, 28: 158‑173.

Marsh, O.C. 1877. Notice of new dinosaurian reptiles from the Jurassic Formation. American Journal of Sciences, 84: 514‑516.

McFeeters, B.; Ryan, M.J.; Hinic-Frlog, S. & Schröder-Adams, C.J. 2013. A reevaluation of Sigilmassasaurus brevicollis (Dinosauria) from the Cretaceous of Morocco. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 50(6): 636‑649.

Medeiros, M.A.A. & Schultz, C.L. 2002. A Fauna Dinossauriana da “Laje do Coringa”, Cretáceo Médio do Nordeste do Brasil. Arquivos do Museu Nacional, 60: 155‑162.

Metcalfe, I. 2006. Palaeozoic and Mesozoic tectonic evolution and palaeogeography of East Asian crustal fragments: the Korean Peninsula in context. Gondwana Research, 9: 24‑46.

Milner, A.C. 2003. Fish-eating theropods: a short review of the systematics, biology and palaeobiology of spinosaurs. In: Huerta Hurtado, P. & Torcida Férnandes-Baldor, F. (Eds). Journadas Internacionales sobre paleontologiá de Dinosaurios y su Entorno, 2º, 2001. Actas. Burgos, Sala de los Enfantes. p. 129‑138.

Naish, D.; Martill, D.M. & Frey, E. 2004. Ecology, systematics and biogeographical relationships of dinosaurs, including a new theropod, from the Santana Formation (?Albian, Early Cretaceous) of Brazil. Historical Biology, 16: 57‑70.

Nothdurft, W.; Smith, J.B.; Lamanna, M.C.; Lacovara, K.J.; Poole, J.C.; Smith, J.R. 2002. The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt. New York, Random House. 242 p.

Novas, F.E.; Agnolín, F.L.; Ezcurra, M.D.; Porfiri, J. & Canale, J.I. 2013. Evolution of the carnivorous dinosaurs during the Cretaceous: the evidence from Patagonia. Cretaceous Research, 45: 174‑215.

Novas, F.E.; de Valais, S.; Vickers-Rich, P. & Rich, T. 2005. A large Cretaceous theropod from Patagonia, Argentina, and the evolution of carcharodontosaurids. Naturwissenschaften, 92(5): 226‑230.

Ortega, F.; Escao, F. & Sand, J.L. 2010. A bizarre, humped Carcharodontosauria (Theropoda) from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain. Nature, 467: 203‑206.

Rauhut, O. 1999. A dinosaur fauna from the Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of northern Sudan. Paleontologica Africana, 35: 61‑84.

Rauhut, O.W.M. 2011. Theropod dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic of Tendaguru (Tanzania). Special Papers in Palaeontology, 86: 195‑239.

Rayfield, E.J.; Milner, A.C.; Xuan, V.B. & Young, P.G. 2007. Functional morphology of spinosaur ‘crocodile-mimic’ dinosaurs. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27: 892‑901.

Sereno, P.C. 2005. The logical basis of phylogenetic taxonomy. Systematic Biology, 54 (42): 595‑619.

Sereno, P.C. & Brusatte, S.L. 2008. Basal abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Niger. Acta Palaeontogica Polonica, 53(1): 15‑46.

Sereno, P.C.; Beck, A.L.; Dutheil, D.B.; Gado, B.; Larsson, H.C.; Lyon, G.H. & Wilson, J.A. 1998. A long-snouted predatory dinosaur from Africa and the evolution of spinosaurids. Science, 282(5392): 1298‑1302.

Sereno, P.C.; Dutheil, D.B.; Iarochene, M.; Larsson, H.C.E.; Lyon, G.H.; Magwene, P.M.; Sidor, C.A.; Varricchio, D.J. & Wilson, J.A. 1996. Predatory dinosaurs from the Sahara and Late Cretaceous faunal differentiation. Science, 272: 986‑99.

Sereno, P.C.; McAllister, S.; & Brusatte, S.L. 2005. TaxonSearch: A relational database for suprageneric taxa and phylogenetic definitions. PhyloInformatics, 8(56): 1‑25.

Stovall, J.W. & Lanston, W. 1950. Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, a new genus and species of Lower Cretaceous Theropoda from Oklahoma. The American Midland Naturalist, 696‑728.

Stromer, E. 1915. Ergebnisse der Forschungsreisen Prof. E. Stromers in den Wüsten Ægyptens. II. Wirbeltier-Reste der Baharije-Stufe (unterstes Cenoman). 3. Das Original des Theropoden Spinosaurus aegyptiacus nov. gen., nov. spec. Abhandlungen der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-physikalische Classe, 28: 1‑32.

Stromer, E. 1931. Wirbeltiere-Reste der Baharijestufe (unterestes Canoman). Ein Skelett-Rest von Carcharodontosaurus nov. gen. Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Abteilung, 9: 1‑23.

Sues, H.D.; Frey, E.; Martill, D.M. & Scott, D.M. 2002. Irritator challengeri, a spinosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22: 535‑547.

Zanno, L.E. & Makovicky, P.J. 2013. Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America. Nature Communication, 4: 2827.






Original Article

How to Cite

Candeiro, C. R. dos A., Brusatte, S. L., Vidal, L., & Pereira, P. V. L. G. da C. (2018). Paleobiogeographic evolution and distribution of Carcharodontosauridae (Dinosauria, Theropoda) during the middle Cretaceous of North Africa. Papéis Avulsos De Zoologia, 58, e20185829.