Ouled Abdoun Basin
Stratigraphic range: Cenomanian-Ypresian
~70.6–47.8 Ma
The Oulad Abdoun and other major phosphate basins (in yellow) of Morocco
TypeGeological formation
Unit ofSedimentary Basins
PrimaryPhosphate, Silica
OtherClay, Limestone
Coordinates32°53′N 6°55′W / 32.883°N 6.917°W / 32.883; -6.917
RegionBéni Mellal-Khénifra, Khouribga
Country Morocco
Ouled Abdoun Basin is located in Morocco
Ouled Abdoun Basin
Ouled Abdoun Basin (Morocco)

The Oulad Abdoun Basin (also known as the Ouled Abdoun Basin or Khouribga Basin) is a phosphate sedimentary basin located in Morocco, near the city of Khouribga. It is the largest in Morocco, comprising 44% of Morocco's phosphate reserves, and at least 26.8 billion tons of phosphate.[1][2] It is also known as an important site for vertebrate fossils, with deposits ranging from the Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian-Turonian) to the Eocene epoch (Ypresian), a period of about 25 million years.[3]


The Oulad Abdoun is located west of the Atlas Mountains, near the city of Khouribga. The Oulad Abdoun phosphate deposits encompass some 100 by 45 kilometres (62 by 28 mi), an area of 4,500 square kilometres (1,700 sq mi).[2] The Oulad Abdoun is the largest and northernmost of Morocco's major phosphate basins, which from northeast to southwest, include the Ganntour, Meskala, and Oued Eddahab (Laayoune-Baa) basins.[1][2]


Life restoration of Ouled Abdoun Basin paleoenvironments during the late Cretaceous: dinosaurs of Sidi Chennae (left) and numerous aquatic animals of Sidi Daoui (right).
Color key
Taxon Reclassified taxon Taxon falsely reported as present Dubious taxon or junior synonym Ichnotaxon Ootaxon Morphotaxon
Uncertain or tentative taxa are in small text; crossed out taxa are discredited.

The Oulad Abdoun Basin stretches from the late Cretaceous to the Eocene and contains abundant marine vertebrate fossils, including sharks, bony fish, turtles, crocodilians, and other reptiles, as well as sea birds and a small number of terrestrial mammals.[3][4]


Bony fish

Bony fish from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Acipenseridae[5] Indeterminate Maastrichtian First record of a sturgeon on the continent of Africa.
Enchodus E. libycus Maastrichtian An enchodontid aulopiform.
E. bursauxi Maastrichtian
E. elegans Maastrichtian
Eoserrasalmimus[6] E. cattoi Maastrichtian A pycnodontiform.
Mawsoniidae[7] Indeterminate Maastrichtian A giant mawsoniid coelacanth measuring 3.65–5.52 metres (12.0–18.1 ft) long.
Phacodus[8] P. punctatus var. africanus Maastrichtian A pycnodontiform.
Plethodidae[9] Indeterminate Maastrichtian Youngest occurrence of plethodid fish.
Pycnodontidae Indeterminate Maastrichtian
Pseudoegertonia P. sp. Maastrichtian
Serrasalmimus[6] S. secans Thanetian A carnivorous pycnodontiform.
Stephanodus S. libycus Maastrichtian
Stratodus S. apicalis Maastrichtian An alepisauroform.
Macroprosopon M. hiltoni[10] Ypresian A marine osteoglossid.


Sharks from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Abdounia[11] A. africana Selandian A requiem shark.
Brachycarcharias B. atlasi[10] Ypresian
Casieria C. maghrebiana Selandian
Chiloscyllium C. salvani. Selandian A carpet shark.
Cretalamna C. appendiculata Maastrichtian
C. maroccana Maastrichtian
Delpitoscyllium D. africanum Selandian
Eostegostoma E. sp. Selandian A carpet shark.
Foumtizia F. abdouni Selandian
Galeorhinus G. mesetaensis Selandian
Ginglymostoma G. chenanei Selandian
G. khouribgaense Selandian
Hologinglymostoma H. jaegeri Selandian
Khouribgaleus K. gomphorhiza Selandian
Metlaouia M. delpiti Selandian
Microscyliorhinus M. simplex Selandian
Palaeogaleus P. larachei Selandian
Palaeorhincodon P. daouii Selandian A carpet shark.
Porodermoides P. spanios Selandian
Premontreia P. peypouqueti Selandian
P. subulidens Selandian
Scyliorhinus S. ptychtus Selandian
S. entomodon Selandian
S. sulcidens Selandian
Serratolamna S. serrata Maastrichtian
S. khderii Maastrichtian
Squalicorax S. pristodontus Maastrichtian
S. bassanii Maastrichtian
S. africanus Maastrichtian
S. microserratus Maastrichtian
S. benguerirensis Maastrichtian
Triakis T. antunesi Selandian

Other cartilaginous fish

Other cartilaginous cish from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Archaemanta A. priemi Selandian A ray.
Burnhamia B. cf. davisi Selandian A devil ray
Coupatezia C. larivei Selandian A ray.
C. fallax Maastrichtian
C. elevata Maastrichtian
Dasyatis D. ponsi Selandian A stingray. An indeterminate species found in Maastrichtian deposits of Ganntour Basin.
Delpitia D. reticulata Selandian A ray.
Gymnura G. delpiti Selandian A ray.
Heterobatis H. talbaouii Selandian A ray.
Heterotorpedo H. brahimi Selandian A ray.
Hypolophodon H. sp. Selandian A ray.
Rhombodus R. binkhorsti Maastrichtian A ray.
R. microdus Maastrichtian
R. meridionalis Maastrichtian
Schizorhiza S. stromeri Maastrichtian A sclerorhynchoid skate which resembled a sawfish.



Crocodylomorphs from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Arambourgisuchus[12] A. khouribgaensis Thanetian A dyrosaurid.
Atlantosuchus A. coupatezi Danian A dyrosaurid.
Chenanisuchus C. lateroculi Thanetian The most basal known dyrosaurid.
Dyrosaurus P. maghribensis Ypresian A dyrosaur.
Maroccosuchus[13] M. zennaroi Ypresian A tomistomine crocodylian.
Ocepesuchus[14] O. eoafricanus Maastrichtian A gavialoid crocodylian.


Mosasaurs from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Carinodens C. minalmamar Maastrichtian A small mosasaurine mosasaur with crushing teeth.
Eremiasaurus E. heterodontus Maastrichtian A mosasaurine mosasaur with unusual cutting dentition.
Gavialimimus[15] G. almaghribensis Maastrichtian An unusual longirostrine plioplatecarpine mosasaur.
Globidens G. phosphaticus Maastrichtian A mosasaurine mosasaur with specialized crushing teeth.
G. simplex Maastrichtian
G. aegyptiacus Maastrichtian Now referred to its own genus, Igdamanosaurus.
Halisaurus H. arambourgi Maastrichtian A halisaurine mosasaur.
Igdamanosaurus I. aegyptiacus Maastrichtian
Khinjaria[16] K. acuta
  • Sidi Chennane
  • a partial skull and vertebra
A plioplatecarpine mosasaur.
Mosasaurus M. beaugei Maastrichtian A large mosasaurine mosasaur.
Pachyvaranus P. crassispondylus Maastrichtian A pachyvaranid
Platecarpus P. ptychodon Maastrichtian A nomen dubium. Now referred to its genus, Gavialimimus.
Pluridens[17] P. serpentis Maastrichtian A large halisaurine mosasaur, also known from Niger and Nigeria.
Prognathodon P. currii Maastrichtian A large mosasaurine mosasaur.
P. giganteus Maastrichtian
Stelladens[18] S. mysteriosus Maastrichtian A medium-sized mosasaurine with distinct, unique teeth structure.
Thalassotitan[19] T. atrox Maastrichtian A large-bodied mosasaurine with powerful jaws, similar to P. currii.
Xenodens[20] X. calminechari Maastrichtian A small mosasaurine mosasaur with unusual, shark-like teeth.
Snakes from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Palaeophis[21] P. maghrebianus Maastrichtian?–Ypresian A palaeophiid marine snake.


Plesiosaurs from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Zarafasaura Z. oceanis Maastrichtian An elasmosaurid plesiosaur with an unusually short skull.


Turtles from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Alienochelys[22] A. selloumi Maastrichtian A sea turtle with crushing jaws.
Araiochelys[23] A. hirayamai
Argillochelys[24] A. africana Ypresian A pancheloniid sea turtle.
Bothremys[23] B. kellyi Danian-Thanetian
B. maghrebiana
Brachyopsemys B. tingitana Danian A sandownid sea turtle
Euclastes E. acutirostris Danian-Thanetian A pancheloniid sea turtle. An indeterminate species also present in the Maastrichtian deposits of Ganntour Basin.[25]
E. wielandi Danian
Labrostochelys[23] L. galkini Danian
Ocepechelon[26] O. bouyai Maastrichtian A giant protostegid sea turtle with an unusual pipette-like snout.
Puppigerus P. camperi Ypresian
Rhothonemys[23] R. brinkmani Danian
Tasbacka T. ouledabdounensis Danian
Taphrosphys T. ippolitoi Danian
Ummulisani U. rutgersensis Ypresian


Pterosaurs from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Alcione[27] A. elainus Maastrichtian A nyctosaurid which shows possible adaptations towards diving behaviour.
Barbaridactylus B. grandis Maastrichtian A nyctosaurid. Barbaridactylus
Simurghia S. robusta Maastrichtian A nyctosaurid related to Alcione.
Phosphatodraco P. mauritanicus Maastrichtian An azhdarchid.
cf Arambourgiania A. sp? Maastrichtian A giant azhdarchid, may belong to the Jordanian taxon Arambourgiania.
Azhdarchidae Indet. Maastrichtian A new taxon, currently unnamed.
Tethydraco T. regalis Maastrichtian A pterosaur of debated affinity; may be an azhdarchid or a pteranodontid.


Late Maastrichtian dinosaurs of Ouled Abdoun Basin, including Minqaria, Ajnabia, Chenanisaurus, and several unnamed specimens

Bird fossils are common in the Basin, which includes the oldest birds in Africa.[4] At least three orders and several families of sea birds are represented, including Procellariiformes (albatrosses and petrels, fossils assignable to Diomedeidae and Procellariidae), Pelecaniformes (pelicans and allies, fossils assignable to Phaethontidae, Prophaethontidae, Fregatidae and Pelagornithidae), and Anseriformes (waterfowl, including fossil Presbyornithidae).[4]


Ornithischians from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Ajnabia[28] A. odysseus
  • Office Cherifien des Phosphates mines at Sidi Chennane
  • partial left maxilla with teeth
  • fragments of right maxilla
  • partial right dentary
A small lambeosaurine hadrosaur; the first known from Africa.
Lambeosaurinae[29] Indeterminate
  • Mrah Lahrach
  • right femur
A lambeosaurine larger than Ajnabia and Minqaria.
Lambeosaurinae[29] Indeterminate
  • Sidi Daoui
  • left humerus
A lambeosaurine larger than Ajnabia and Minqaria.
Minqaria[29] M. bata
  • Sidi Chennane
  • right maxilla
  • left dentary
  • braincase
A lambeosaurine hadrosaur.


Saurischians from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Abelisauridae[30] Indeterminate
  • Sidi Chennane
Maastrichtian right tibia Probably distinct from Chenanisaurus due to its smaller size (about 5 m (16 ft) long) despite being mature. Similar to South American abelisaurids.
Abelisauridae[30] Indeterminate
  • Sidi Daoui
Maastrichtian right metatarsal II A mature specimen but very small for an abelisaurid, about 2.6 m (8.5 ft) long
Chenanisaurus[31] C. barbaricus
  • Sidi Chennane
  • Sidi Daoui
  • anterior end of left dentary
  • 2 premaxillary teeth
  • a maxillary tooth
A large abelisaurid theropod.
Titanosauria[31] Indeterminate Maastrichtian
  • right femur, tibia, and fibula
  • undescribed material
A new titanosaurian taxon, currently unnamed.
Dasornis D. tolapica Selandian A pelagornithid, or pseudotooth bird.
D. emuinus Ypresian
Lithoptila[33] L. abdounensis Thanetian A seabird related to modern tropicbirds.



Afrotheres from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Abdounodus[34] A. hamdii Thanetian-Ypresian A lower jaw. An early afrotherian mammal.
Daouitherium[35] D. rebouli Ypresian lower jaws and associated cheek teeth An early proboscidean.
Eritherium[36] E. azzouzorum Thanetian An early proboscidean.
Hadrogeneios[37] H. phosphaticus Selandian-Thanetian An early afrotherian mammal.
Ocepeia[34] O. daouiensis Selandian Partial skull consists of an upper jaw and dental fragments An early afrotherian mammal.

O. grandis Thanetian Lower jaw and teeth.
Phosphatherium P. escuilliei Selandian An early proboscidean.
Stylolophus[38] S. minor Ypresian An embrithopod.
S. major Ypresian


Creodonts from the Khouribga Phosphates
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Boualitomus B. marocanensis Selandian A hyaenodont.
Lahimia[39] L. selloumi Selandian A hyaenodont.


Mollusca from the Khouribga Phosphates[40]
Genus Species Location Time Material Notes Images
Cucullaea (Idonearca) C. (I.) thevestensis A false ark shell.
Heligmopsis H. wegmanianus Maastrichtian A feather oyster also present in Ganntour basin.
Venericardia V. coquandi Danian A carditid clam also present in Ganntour basin.
Baculites B. sp. Maastrichtian A straight-shelled ammonite, also present in Ganntour basin.
Cimomia C. aff. sudanensis Ypresian A nautiloid also present in Ganntour basin.
Ampullinopsis A. crassatina An ampullinid gastropod.
Hemithersitea H. chouberti Lutetian A thersiteid gastropod.

See also


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