Discovery of Mesozoic Vertebrates

Discovery of Mesozoic vertebrates in the Northwestern Plateau region in November 1976 was a by-product of work sponsored by the Rift Valley Research Mission in Ethiopia. Jon Kalb, C.R. Schaff and C.B. Wood made brief reconnaissance trips to areas of exposure of Mesozoic sediments to the north and west of Addis Ababa. Vertebrate fossils were discovered in rocks designated the Adigrat Sandstone (near Ambo) and in the Mugher Mudstone, exposed in the valley of the Aleltu River.

Beginning with fieldwork in 1993, we have resampled localities in the Adigrat Sandstone near Ambo. In the Bole River area, additional material was collected from the Aleltu site and a new locality, Butoro, was discovered. During the field reconnaisance to review the stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Mesozoic section in the Abay River Gorge, fossil vertebrates were discovered in the valley of the Jema River. This work has been previously reported in part (Wood et al., 1993; Werner, 1995).

In January, 1995, the Ambo and Jema localities were resampled and in January, 1996, new vertebrate localities were discovered in the Mugher Mudstone exposed in the Besola and Wenchit River valleys. We also initiated work in the northern province of Tigray.

Merino finds dinosaur Crew washes matrix

Fig. 3 - Looking for fossils.
At left, Mike Merino and Mark Goodwin are all smiles as Mike shows off his find: the first confirmed theropod dinosaur tooth from Ethiopia. At right, the field crew washes dirt, or matrix, in screen boxes. The sand and silt filters out, and the scientists are left with a concentrate of pebbles, plant debris and hopefully small fossils in the screens.