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 History of Africa

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PostSubject: History of Africa   Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:27 pm

At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, Africa was joined with Earth's other continents in Pangaea.[11] Africa shared the supercontinent's relatively uniform fauna which was dominated by theropods, prosauropods and primitive ornithischians by the close of the Triassic period.[11] Late Triassic fossils are found through-out Africa, but are more common in the south than north.[11] The boundary separating the Triassic and Jurassic marks the advent of an extinction event with global impact, although African strata from this time period have not been thoroughly studied.[11]

Early Jurassic strata are distributed in a similar fashion to Late Triassic beds, with more common outcrops in the south and less common fossil beds which are predominated by tracks to the north.[11] As the Jurassic proceeded, larger and more iconic groups of dinosaurs like sauropods and ornithopods proliferated in Africa.[11] Middle Jurassic strata are neither well represented nor well studied in Africa.[11] Late Jurassic strata are also poorly represented apart from the spectacular Tendaguru fauna in Tanzania.[11] The Late Jurassic life of Tendaguru is very similar to that found in western North America's Morrison Formation.[11]

Midway through the Mesozoic, about 150–160 million years ago, Madagascar separated from Africa, although it remained connected to India and the rest of the Gondwanan landmasses.[11] Fossils from Madagascar include abelisaurs and titanosaurs.[11]
The African theropod Spinosaurus was the largest known carnivorous dinosaur.

Later into the Early Cretaceous epoch, the India-Madagascar landmass separated from the rest of Gondwana.[11] By the Late Cretaceous, Madagascar and India had permanently split ways and continued until later reaching their modern configurations.[11]

By contrast to Madagascar, mainland Africa was relatively stable in position through-out the Mesozoic.[11] Despite the stable position, major changes occurred to its relation to other landmasses as the remains of Pangea continued to break apart.[11] By the beginning of the Late Cretaceous epoch South America had split off from Africa, completing the southern half of the Atlantic Ocean.[11] This event had a profound effect on global climate by altering ocean currents.[11]

During the Cretaceous, Africa was populated by allosauroids and spinosaurids, including the largest known carnivorous dinosaurs.[11] Titanosaurs were significant herbivores in its ancient ecosystems.[11] Cretaceous sites are more common than Jurassic ones, but are often unable to be dated radiometrically making it difficult to know their exact ages.[11] Paleontologist Louis Jacobs, who spent time doing field work in Malawi,[citation needed] says that African beds are "in need of more field work" and will prove to be a "fertile ground ... for discovery."

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