Angolan ichnosite in a diamond mine shows the presence of a large terrestrial mammaliamorph, a crocodylomorph, and sauropod dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous of Africa

Octávio Mateus*, Marco Marzola, Anne S. Schulp, Louis L. Jacobs, Michael J. Polcyn, Vladimir Pervov, António Olímpio Gonçalves, Maria Luisa Morais

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We report here new and the first mammaliamorph tracks from the Early Cretaceous of Africa. The tracksite, that also bears crocodylomorph and sauropod dinosaurian tracks, is in the Catoca diamond mine, Lunda Sul Province, Angola. The mammaliamorph tracks have a unique morphology, attributed to Catocapes angolanus ichnogen. et ichnosp. nov. and present an anterolateral projection of digit I and V. The tracks with an average length of 2.7 cm and width of 3.2 cm are the largest mammaliamorph tracks known from the Early Cretaceous unmatched in size in the skeletal fossil record. The crocodylomorph trackways and tracks are attributed to Angolaichnus adamanticus ichnogen. et ichnosp. nov. (‘ichnofamily’ Batrachopodidae) and present a functionally pentadactyl pes, an extremely outwardly rotated handprint, and an unusual tetradactyl and plantigrade manus. One medium-sized sauropod dinosaur trackway preserved skin impressions of a trackmaker with stride length of 1.6 m; a second is that of a small-sized sauropod trackmaker with a pace length of 75 cm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-232
Number of pages13
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


Our most sincere gratitude goes to the Sociedade Mineira de Catoca [Catoca Diamond Mine Company], without whose cooperation, interest and collaboration on preserving the studied material this paper would have not been possible. We thank in particular Jose Manuel Augusto Ganga Jr., the general manager of the Catoca Mining Company for support and permissions, and Teofilo Assunção Rodrigues Chifunga for logistical support. This publication results from Projecto PaleoAngola, an international cooperative research effort among the contributing authors and their institutions, funded by the National Geographic Society (8039-06 and 8250-07), the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society (45227-AC8), Sonangol E.P., Esso Angola, Fundação Vida of Angola, LS Films, Maersk, Damco, Safmarine, ISEM at SMU, The Royal Dutch Embassy in Luanda, TAP Airlines, Royal Dutch Airlines, and The Saurus Institute. We thank Margarida Ventura and André Buta Neto for providing our team help in the field. Tako and Henriette Koning provided valuable support and friendship in Angola. We also want to thank Matteo Belvedere (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin) and João Russo (GeoBioTec-FCT/Museu da Lourinhã) for their help on photogrammetry, Steve Hasiotis (University of Kansas) for helping in identifying invertebrate trace fossils, Alexandra Tomás (Museu da Lourinhã) for the laboratory preparation of the samples, and Joana Bruno (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) for the illustration of the Catoca Mine in the graphical abstract. This research would not have been possible without the support from the late Kalunga Lima of LS Filmes in Luanda.

FundersFunder number
Catoca Mining Company
Fundação Vida of Angola
Margarida Ventura and André Buta Neto
Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Royal Dutch Airlines
Royal Dutch Embassy in Luanda
Saurus Institute
Sociedade Mineira de Catoca
TAP Airlines
Teofilo Assunção Rodrigues Chifunga
National Geographic Society8039-06, 8250-07
American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund45227-AC8
University of Kansas
Saint Mary’s University


    • Angola
    • Angolaichnus adamanticus
    • Catocapes angolanus
    • Cretaceous
    • Crocodylomorph
    • Footprints
    • Mammaliamorph
    • Sauropod
    • Tracks


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