Scientists pinpoint 'most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth'

A paleontologist says time travelers would not survive long in this predator-packed area of Africa 100 million years ago.

Amanda Kooser
Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
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This artist's illustration shows a massive dinosaur Carcharodontosaurus with a group of crocodile-like Elosuchus predators near a carcass.

Artwork by Davide Bonadonna

Once you build your time machine, please do not set your destination for 100 million years ago in Morocco. 

An international team of scientists led by paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Detroit Mercy and the University of Portsmouth in the UK conducted a wide-ranging survey of the creatures and geology of an area in southeastern Morocco called the Kem Kem Group.

"This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveler would not last very long," Ibrahim said in a University of Portsmouth release on Friday. Some of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever discovered once roamed the region. 

The researchers published a paper on their Kem Kem Group findings in the journal ZooKeys this week. The University of Portsmouth called this "the first detailed and fully illustrated account of the fossil-rich escarpment."   

Back in the Cretaceous, the area was home to rivers and packed with predators ranging from massive land-bound dinosaurs to flying pterosaurs. They had an abundance of prey to feed on. "This place was filled with absolutely enormous fish, including giant coelacanths and lungfish," said co-author David Martill from the University of Portsmouth.

Ibrahim traveled around the world to study Kem Kem Group fossils held in various collections. "This is the most comprehensive piece of work on fossil vertebrates from the Sahara in almost a century," Martill said

The researchers' work paints a vivid picture of a land filled with crocodile-like predators, hungry bipedal dinosaurs with shark-like teeth and fish that would make an angler faint. It would have been a wonderful place to live if you were at the top of the food chain.

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