Seminar Speaker for Darwin Day 2018
German/Moroccan paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, a postdoctoral scholar in vertebrate anatomy and paleontology at the University of Chicago,
scours the deserts of North Africa for clues to life in the Cretaceous period, when the area was a large river system teeming with a profusion of
diverse life. In addition to unearthing many huge dinosaur bones, he has discovered fossil footprints and a new species of flying reptile with
an 18-foot wingspan that lived 95 million years ago. His upcoming paper describing the ecosystem of what is now Morocco's Sahara Desert in the
mid-Cretaceous period will be a milestone, providing the most detailed account of the diversity, paleoecology, and geologic context of fossil
vertebrates from North Africa. His description is especially important, since northern Africa and the mid-Cretaceous period are underexplored
and underrepresented in paleontology. "We found an entire lost world; a window on a moment of major evolutionary change," he says.
Nizar Ibrahim was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2014.
SPINOSAURUS: LOST GIANT OF THE CRETACEOUS
Meet Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur yet discovered—larger than T. rex —and hear
the incredible story of how this prehistoric giant was almost lost to science, before being brought
back to light with the help of a remarkable young paleontologist.
Discovered more than half a century ago in Morocco by the great German paleontologist Ernst
Stromer, Spinosaurus’ fossil remains were lost in the Allied bombing of Germany during World
War II. With the help of recent fossil discoveries in the desert, and Stromer’s own data and
drawings, contemporary scientists including German/Moroccan paleontologist and National
Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim have reconstructed a full skeletal model of
Spinosaurus, which has been featured on the National Geographic Channel and presented in
the National Geographic Museum.
With amazing video recreating the lost world of the Cretaceous-era Sahara, Ibrahim will tell the
story of Spinosaurus’ discovery, loss, and rediscovery, and explain what—other than its size—
makes this ancient monster unique.