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Holwerda, Femke M.; Diez Diaz, Veronica; Blanco, Alejandro; Montie, Roel; Reumer, Jelle W. F. (2018): Late Cretaceous sauropod tooth morphotypes may provide supporting evidence for faunal connections between North Africa and Southern Europe. In: PeerJ, Vol. 6, e5925


The Cretaceous Kem Kem beds of Morocco and equivalent beds in Algeria have produced a rich fossil assemblage, yielding, amongst others, isolated sauropod teeth, which can be used in species diversity studies. These Albian-Cenomanian ( approximately 113-93.9 Ma) strata rarely yield sauropod body fossils, therefore, isolated teeth can help to elucidate the faunal assemblages from North Africa, and their relations with those of contemporaneous beds and geographically close assemblages. Eighteen isolated sauropod teeth from three localities (Erfoud and Taouz, Morocco, and Algeria) are studied here, to assess whether the teeth can be ascribed to a specific clade, and whether different tooth morphotypes can be found in the samples. Two general morphotypes are found, based on enamel wrinkling and general tooth morphology. Morphotype I, with mainly rugose enamel wrinkling, pronounced carinae, lemon-shaped to (sub)cylindrical cross-section and mesiodistal tapering towards an apical tip, shows affinities to titanosauriforms and titanosaurs. Morphotype II, characterized by more smooth enamel, cylindrical cross-section, rectangular teeth with no apical tapering and both labial and lingual wear facets, shows similarities to rebbachisaurids. Moreover, similarities are found between these northwest African tooth morphotypes, and tooth morphotypes from titanosaurs and rebbachisaurids from both contemporaneous finds from north and central Africa, as well as from the latest Cretaceous (Campanian-Maastrichtian, 83.6 Ma-66.0 Ma) of the Ibero-Armorican Island. These results support previous hypotheses from earlier studies on faunal exchange and continental connections between North Africa and Southern Europe in the Cretaceous.