This beautiful Pterosaur tooth displays a series of special traits. The shine of its enamel is especially strong, with intense brown, orangish and red hues. This specimen is preserved complete, without any restoration or reparation. Its size indicates that it must have belonged to a great Pterosaur.
Its enamel has a great range of stunning colors. The iron and manganese oxide mineralizations have cristalyzed mainly along the natural micro-fissures of the enamel, in a longitudinal way. Therefore we can observe a veining black, with greenish and yellowish hues. This type of mineralization is extremely rare. The combination of its features confers this tooth a very high value.
The teeth with strong and vivid fossilization colors such as red, orange and black come from small paleochannels composed by thin layers, in the intermediate and upper stratigraphic levels (Red Sandstone Beds), from the Aoufous Formation (Kem Kem Basin, South of Morocco). The lithology of this body of sediment is characterized by the dominance of sandstones (also known as arenites) and fluvial gravel, of siliceous nature. Sometimes large concentrations of iron oxide are present, and then a small sample of that is usually present at the base of the tooth. These mineralizations are responsible for the wide range of beautiful reddish color tones, slowly drawn during millions of years via fossil-diagenetic processes. The complicated sedimentarian architecture of the layers where most large vertebrates are found makes the excavation methodology a real challenge. Sometimes the local miners have to excavate long tunnels that follow the distribution of the fossiliferous layer.
The pterosaurs dentition rests in the Upper Cretaceous in North Africa are relatively common among the fauna which got preserved from those ecosystems around 100 million years ago. However, only two different pterosaur taxons have been described. Mader & Kellner (1999) (Full reference: B. J. Mader and A. W. A. Kellner. 1999. A new anhanguerid pterosaur from the Cretaceous of Morocco. Boletim do Museu Nacional - Geologia 45:1-11) described the Coloborhynchus moroccensis species, belonging to the Anhangueridae family, which lived at the middle of the Cretaceous (between the Albian and Cenomanian stages, about 105 million years ago). Remains have been discovered in Morocco. Another alternative combination in the nomenclature of this taxon is Siroccopteryx moroccensis.
Phylogeny: The descriptors of Siroccopteryx placed this genus in the family Anhangueridae, sensu Kellner. David Unwin, however, indicated in 2001 that it was a species of Coloborhynchus, then he called it as C. moroccensis and being a member of the Ornithocheiridae. This has been controversial. In the same year, Michael Festnacht suggested it was more similar to Anhanguera due to the wide end of the snout. In 2009, Kellner considered that Siroccopteryx, Coloborhynchus clavirostris and Uktenadactylus probably formed together a clade within Anhangueridae. [This last paragraph is from Wikipedia - License: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported]
The type specimen is: LINHM 016, a partial skull (Anterior part of upper jaw with teeth). Its type locality is Beg'aa, west of Hamada du Guir, which is in a Cenomanian fluvial sandstone in the Kem Kem Formation of Morocco.
For more rigorous scientific information, see also Martill and Unwin 2011, Rodrigues and Kellner 2008, Unwin 2001 and Unwin 2003.
Despite the amount of teeth of this genus than have been discovered, there is still a lot to be discovered about the paleoecology of this flying piscivorous.
On the other hand, recently Ibreahim et al., 2010, described a new genus and species of pterosaur, belonging to the Azhdarchidae family, and found in the same fossiliferous locations of the Moroccan Cretaceous. This new species was named Alanqa saharahica. (Full reference: N. Ibrahim, D. M. Unwin, D. M. Martill, L. Baidder, and S. Zouhri. 2010. A new pterosaur (Pterodactyloidea: Azharchidae) from the Upper Cretaceous of Morocco. PLoS One 5(5):e10875)