Dinosaurs swam across oceans, a major study reveals


Duckbills, with their broad tails and powerful legs, are thought to be strong swimmers.

But they would have to travel huge distances across the deep oceans surrounding Africa to reach the continent, swimming, floating or rafting on debris, the researchers said.

“As far as I know, we are the first to suggest ocean crossings for dinosaurs,” said Prof Longrich.

Dr. Nour-Eddine Jalil, of the Natural History Museum of the Sorbonne University in France, said his team’s discovery demonstrates that “ocean barriers are not always an insurmountable obstacle.”

“The succession of unlikely events (crossing of an ocean by a dinosaur, fossilization of a terrestrial animal in a marine environment) highlights the rarity of our find and therefore its importance”, he added.

The name given to this new type of duck bill, Ajnabia odysseus, comes from the Arabic word for “stranger” (Ajnabi) and Odysseus, the Greek seafarer.

Ocean crossings are rare, but have been observed in historical times.

In one case, green iguanas traveled between Caribbean islands during a hurricane by climbing over debris. In another, a Seychellois turtle floated hundreds of kilometers across the Indian Ocean to reach Africa.

“Over the course of millions of years, the events of once in a century are likely to repeat themselves many times over,” said Prof. Longrich.

“Ocean crossings are necessary to explain how lemurs and hippos got to Madagascar, or how monkeys and rodents went from Africa to South America.”

Scientists from the University of Bath led the research, along with colleagues from Spain, France, Morocco and the United States. Their study was published in Cretaceous Research.


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