Fossil vertebrates from the phosphate Basins of Morocco
(Late Cretaceous-early Eocene)

Nathalie BARDET & Emmanuel GHEERBRANT
CNRS - UMR 7207, Département Histoire de la Terre, MNHN, Paris


The study of fossil vertebrates from the phosphate Basins of Morocco (Late Cretaceous – Early Eocene) is the subject of a collaborative scientific program between the National Museum of Natural History of Paris (MNHN, UMR 7207 of the CNRS – Department of Earth History and Department of Galeries), the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM, Rabat), the Cherifian Phosphate Office(OCP, Casablanca), the Cadi Ayyad University (UCAM, Marrakech), the Chouaib Doukkali University (UCDJ, El Jadida), as well as the University of Sciences and Techniques of Languedoc (USTL, Montpellier) and the University of the Basque country (UPV/EHU, Bilbao).

 The outstanding feature of the fossiliferous phosphate basins known in Morocco is the exceptional paleobiodiversity preserved locally during 25 Myr, from the Late Cretaceous to the Early/Middle Eocene. The Moroccan phosphate basins provide original data on the in situ evolution of marine and terrestrial faunas especially during the K/T and P/E major events in poorly known palaobiogeographical provinces (South Atlantic, Southern Tethys margin, Africa).

The primary aim of the project is a palaeontological study by a multidisciplinary team of the exceptional local vertebrate faunas, especially those from the Ouled Abdoun and Ganntour basins, with research lines such as systematics, phylogeny, biostratigraphy, faunal evolution and turnover (especially during K/T and P/E transitions), palaeobiogeography and palaeoecology.

Coupled with the research palaeontological program, the project plans to gather and manage an international reference collection representative of the palaeobiodiversity of the vertebrate faunas from the phosphates basins of Morocco, relevant to research, education and exhibition. This collection, which constitutes a world-wide natural heritage of Morocco, is the basis for the current building by the OCP of a Palaeontological Museum in the mining center of Khouribga, with the help of the Department of the Galeries of the MNHN.