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Isolated cervical vertebrae from the mid Cretaceous Kem Kem beds of south east Morocco are referred to the theropod dinosaur clade Abelisauroidea, and represent the first axial remains from this deposit referred to this group. An isolated axis is referred to Abelisauroidea on account of the invaginated spinopostzygapophyseal lamina; the extremely large, projecting and pointed epipophyses; and the anteroposteriorly long, transversely compressed neural spine with a gently convex and unexpanded dorsal margin. In addition, postzygapophyseal facets which completely overhang the centrum posteriorly and lack lateral orientation indicate abelisaurid affinities. An anterior cervical (C4?) is referred to Noasauridae based on an anteriorly-positioned, reduced neural spine and extremely well developed centroprezygapophyseal fossae. This specimen represents both the smallest dinosaur and the first definitive small-bodied dinosaur from the Kem Kem beds. The affinities of the new material are discussed in the context of other abelisauroid remains reported from the Kem Kem assemblage and elsewhere in Africa.
- Kem Kem beds