Nizar Ibrahim


Emerging Explorer

Picture of Nizar Ibrahim at Gara Sbaa

Photograph by Robert Loveridge

Picture of Nizar Ibrahim

Photograph by Robert Loveridge

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.

In Their Words

Paleontology is like detective work. It’s amazing to piece together clues and re-create a hundred-million-year-old landscape where gigantic predators flourished and enormous evolutionary changes unfolded.

—Nizar Ibrahim

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