Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
{search_item}

Get up close to the fossil remains of giant reptiles that once ruled Angola’s waves.

After the South Atlantic Ocean basin formed 120 million years ago, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and sea turtles moved in and thrived along Africa’s southwest coast. Projecto PaleoAngola scientists continue to uncover the fossils of these real-life sea monsters, shedding light on this period in Earth’s history—and on ocean ecosystems today.

Inside the Ocean Focus Gallery, you can explore modern Angola’s fossil-filled cliffs, dive into Cretaceous Angola’s cool coastal waters, and learn about the evolutionary, geological, and environmental forces that shaped life in the ocean then and now.

LOOK FOR:

  • A full-size, 23-foot-long fossil reconstruction of a giant predatory mosasaur
  • An animated mural teeming with sea monsters from Angola’s 72-million-year-old ocean ecosystem
  • The fossil skull of the South Atlantic’s oldest species of sea turtle

TO DO:

  • Touch the teeth of a shell-crushing mosasaur—and the oyster shell fragments it left in its wake.
  • Compare Angola’s ancient ocean ecosystems with today’s in a spinner interactive.
  • Snap a selfie with a massive mosasaur that’s ready to bite.
Mosasaur eating oysters
Mosasaur Globidens phosphaticus crunching huge hard-shelled oysters on a shallow shelf off Bentiaba, Angola, 72 million years ago. Skull and teeth specimens of this species from the fossil bed discovery in Angola are on display in the Sea Monsters Unearthed exhibit. Image: Karen Carr
Skull specimen of Mosasaur species Angolasaurus bocagei
These giant reptiles once dominated ocean ecosystems around the world, including along Angola’s coast. This species, Angolasaurus bocagei, is the oldest mosasaur from the Southern Hemisphere. A powerful swimmer, it grew up to 13 feet (4 meters) long. Its cone-shaped, curved teeth suggest it hunted fish along Angola’s narrow continental shelf. Skull specimen of this species from the fossil bed discovery in Angola are on display in the Sea Monsters Unearthed exhibit. Photo: Hillsman S. Jackson, Southern Methodist University
Creataceous spinner
Creataceous Spinner (72 million years ago). Angola’s Cretaceous seas, dominated by many species of large, carnivorous marine reptiles. The assemblage of fossils from Angola on display in the Sea Monsters Unearthed exhibit provides paleontologists with a snapshot of a particular place and time, allowing us to compare this bygone ecosystem to today’s ocean. Image: Karen Carr

[ TOP ]

Sign up for the latest news!