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RMCA
Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren - Belgium
Tel. (+32) 02 769 52 11
Fax (+32) 02 769 52 42

 

Treasure of the month

Congosaurus bequaerti


Crocodile fossil

Scientific name : Congosaurus bequaerti Dollo 1914
Photograph
: Pieces of the spinal column and some plates from the carapace
Dimensions of the specimen in the photograph: 70 cm
Dimensions of the skeleton if it were entirely reconstituted: 3.5 m
Origin: Landana cliffs, enclave of Cabinda, Angola
Material: Bone
Registered at the RMCA in 1913

The Congosaurus bequaerti Dollo 1913 is a 60 million year old crocodile fossil. It comes from one of the most important fossil deposits in Africa: the fossil remains of Landana cliffs, in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.

It was discovered in 1913 by J. Bequaert, a Belgian-American botanist and zoologist, during a botanical mission to the Congo during which the Museum of the Congo (the RMCA’s former name) requested he study fossil remains.

The mission returned with many specimens of a diverse fauna, including the virtually complete skeleton (close to 100 pieces) of this nearly four-meter-long crocodile. The museum requested its detailed description in 1950 from the palaeontologist W. E. Swinton, who confirmed the taxonomic importance of the specimen as a new genus and a new species, defined in 1914 by L. Dollo (paleontologist and paleontology professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles from 1909 to 1928. He is also known for his reconstructed Iguanodon skeletons from Bernissart).

Scientists the world over come regularly to study this fossil. Its taxonomic position, which makes it a key benchmark in evolution, and the fossil-rich deposit where it was found are an important record of the conditions of life in this area before the African and South American continents separated.

Contribution of Daniel Baudet of the Department of Geology

Check a 3D model of a Congosaurus fossil:

 


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