Post-Gondwana Africa and the vertebrate history of the Angolan Atlantic Coast

Louis L. Jacobs, Michael J. Polcyn, Octávio Mateus, Anne S. Schulp, António Olímpmpio Gonçalves and Maria Luísa Morais

Memoirs of Museum Victoria Vol 74 p. 343–362 (2016)



The separation of Africa from South America and the growth of the South Atlantic are recorded in rocks exposed along the coast of Angola. Tectonic processes that led to the formation of Africa as a continent also controlled sedimentary basins that preserve fossils. The vertebrate fossil record in Angola extends from the Triassic to the Holocene and includes crocodylomorph, dinosaur, and mammaliamorph footprints, but more extensively, bones of fishes, turtles, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, crocodiles, and cetaceans. Pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and land mammals are rare in Angola. The northward drift of Africa through latitudinal climatic zones provides a method for comparing predicted paleoenvironmental conditions among localities in Angola, and also allows comparison among desert and upwelling areas in Africa, South America, and Australia. South America has shown the least northward drift and its Atacama Desert is the oldest coastal desert among the three continents. Africa’s northward drift caused the displacement of the coastal desert to the south as the continent moved north. Australia drifted from far southerly latitudes and entered the climatic arid zone in the Miocene, more recently than South America or Africa, but in addition, a combination of its drift, continental outline, a downwelling eastern boundary current, the Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean throughflow, and monsoon influence, make Australia unique.


Jacobs, L.L., Polcyn, M.J., Mateus, O., Schulp, A.S., Gonçalves, A.O. & Morais, M.L., 2016. Post-Gondwana Africa and the vertebrate history of the Angolan Atlantic Coast. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 74: 343-362.


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