This tooth represents a perfect example of the dentition features typical of the small theropods (raptors) that dominated the ecosystems of the Upper Cretaceous in the north of Africa. In general this type of teeth have usually a small size.
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 and Ifezouane Fm (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.
Still nowadays there have not been many specific studies about these agile carnivorous, which are relatively abundant in the sites in the south of Morocco, in Egypt and Niger. The features of a single tooth are not enough to distinguish even on a generic level. The comparisons with geometric morphometry on numerous dentition rests have brought up the presence of at least two distinguishable morphotypes. Classically, they have been classified as the Dromaeosauridae and the Abelisauridae families. There is yet a lot to be known about these fascinating theropods, commonly known as raptors. The discovery of some connecting skeleton, with both cranium and postcranium elements, would shed some light on the specific description of at least one of these new carnivorous dinosaur taxons, which were agile and seasoned hunters.
The different Geological Formations that make up the orography of the Cretaceous in the South East of Morocco have been mostly treated in an undifferentiated and not too accurate way by collectors, by Paleontology aficionados and by fossil dealers.
Historically, fossils dealers from all around the world have identified the dinosaur pieces from this sector as belonging to the Tegana Formation. However, in a formal way, most of the last published studies refer to other nomenclature in the description of the units and formations of the Lower and Upper Cretaceous.
That's why next we include an interesting link where the Aoufous Formation and the Ifezouane Formation are described, making reference to their age, geological history, sedimentology, stratigraphy and vertebrate assemblage. It includes a brief explanation of the stratigraphic concepts that have been established formally until today in the studies of this sector of Morocco.
Picture: Geological contextualization of North Africa outcrops: "First report on Cretaceous vertebrates from the Algerian Kem Kem beds. A new procoelous salamander from the Cenomanian, with remarks on African Caudata" Tannina Alloul et al., 2018.
Picture: Geological map and statigraphic section of KemKem Cretaceous outcrops "Taxonomic Composition and Trophic Structure of the Continental Bony Fish Assemblage from the Early Late Cretaceous of Southeastern Morocco" Cavin L et al., 2015.
This way, the precise stratigraphic understanding of the origin of the rests, as well as the sedimentological analysis, enables a better paleoecologic characterization of the environments where this amazing dinosaur assemblage lived.