Phosphates of Morocco
The Phosphates of Morocco are a part of a phosphogenic province that stretches from North Africa to the Middle East geographically and from the Maastrichtian to the Middle Eocene stratigraphically. They represent deposits from the Thetys that preceeded the modern Mediterranean.
In Morocco, in particular, the deposits are not only of economical importance but also rich in fossils. The first to study them was Arambourg (1952) but the decolonization signalled the beginning of a period of inactivity. At the end of the 1990's paleontological work resumed and produced finds of selachians and bony fishes, but somewhat surprisingly also many land animals like dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mosasaurs, birds (odontopterygids, prophaetontids. pheatontids), plesiosaurs, crocodyliforms, turtles, placental mammal (creodonts, proboscids, hyracoids and "condylarths").
The finds are particularly important to the early history of the afrotherians. Gheerbrant (2009) e.g. reports the earliest member of the order Proboscidea Eritherium azzouzorum from about 60 Ma.
Arambourg C. (1935). Note préliminaire sur les vertébrés fossiles des phosphates du Maroc. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France, 5: 413-439, 2 fig., 2 pl.
Arambourg C. (1952). Les vertébrés fossiles des gisements de phosphates (Maroc-Algérie-Tunisie). Notes et Mémoires du Service Géologique du Maroc (Rabat), 92: 1-372.
Bourdon, Estelle; Amaghzazb, Mbarek ; Bouyab, Baâdi; (2008) A new seabird (Aves, cf. Phaethontidae) from the Lower Eocene phosphates of Morocco: Un nouvel oiseau marin (Aves, cf. Phaethontidae) de l’Éocène inférieur des phosphates du Maroc Geobios 41,(4), July-August 2008, Pages 455-459
E. Gheerbrant. 2009. Paleocene emergence of elephant relatives and the rapid radiation of African ungulates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106(26):10717-10721 [M. Uhen/M. Uhen]