2018 Niger Expedition discoveries

Striking new human burials at Gobero and cornucopia of dinosaur discoveries were made across northern Niger on an arduous 2-month archaeological-paleontological expedition.

The first stop on this expedition was the world renowned archaeological site Gobero, home to the most detailed snapshot of life in a "Green Sahara” some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. One burial unearthed intact by the team was awe-inspiring: a woman some 7,000 years old wearing on her wrist a large elephant ivory bracelet. Other major finds included bone harpoons and a classic Tenerean disc found embedded in the bottom sediments of the paleolake, which will allow their precise carbon dating. In all the team excavated 10 burials and recovered approximately 300 new artifacts.

The team traveled across approximately 1000 miles of sometimes treacherous desert terrain, locating many new vertebrate finds including a series of SuperCroc skulls. Major discoveries included the first articulated, nearly complete sail for any dinosaur, this one belonging to the herbivore Ouranosaurus, partial skeletons belonging to the spinosaurid Suchomimus associated with a new giant (2-foot long) freshwater clam (SuperClam!), a skull of the bizarre plant-eating sauropod Nigersaurus, and Africa’s greatest microsite— a location preserving hundreds of thousands of bones documenting many new small-bodied creatures new to science. The expedition was underwritten by a generous donation from Bob and Ellen Vladem.

Photo credit Matt Irving