Studying and preserving the fossils of Angola for the benefit of the Angolan science and heritage

Projecto PaleoAngola

Projecto PaleoAngola is a field-based paleontological and geological project focused on studying and preserving the fossils of Angola and on the effects of the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean on life through geologic time, from 130 Ma to the present. The first Projecto PaleoAngola expedition occurred in 2005 and expeditions to Angola have been conducted. The reason Angola was targeted is because it is the only country in Africa where fossiliferous rocks of the appropriate age and context are found in outcrop.  Angola provided a unique opportunity because no major geological field expeditions had been conducted in Angola since prior to the acceptance of plate tectonics, the unifying paradigm of modern geology.  

Previous Results and Outreach

One of the most relevant outreach activities is the temporary exhibition in the Smithsonian Institute, in Washington:  

The Projecto PaleoAngola team has published fifteen scientific articles, 8 new taxa (species, genera or ichnospecies), and 31 abstracts accompanying presentations, including an invited keynote lecture by Jacobs at the International Geological Congress in Brisbane, Australia.  Many outreach activities have occurred including exhibition of the first dinosaur in Angola at the Geological Museum of Agostinho Neto University, a YouTube video, a National Geographic Portugal article, BBC and Radio Netherlands coverage, an invited lecture at ExxonMobil Angola Day in Houston, and articles in company newsletters for Esso Angola, BP, and Sonangol.  

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New taxa named by Projecto PaleoAngola

Epapatelo otyikokolo n. gen. and sp. Fernandes et al., 2022, Pterosaur from Namibe

Cabindachelys landanensis n. gen. and sp. Myers et al. 2017, turtle from Cabinda

Catocapes angolanus  n. ichnogenus and ichnospecies, Mateus et al., 2017, tracks from Lunda

Angolaichnus adamanticus  n. ichnogenus and ichnospecies, Mateus et al., 2017, tracks  from Lunda

Cardiocorax mukulu gen. et sp. nov., Araújo et al., 2015, elasmosaurid from Namibe

Angolatitan adamastor n. gen. et sp., Mateus et al. 2011, sauropod dinosaur from Bengo

Angolachelonia n. clade, Mateus et al. 2009, eucryptodiran chelonians

Angolachelys mbaxi n. gen. et sp., Mateus et al. 2009, chelonian from Bengo

Prognathodon kianda n. sp., Schulp et al. 2008, mosasaur from Namibe

Funding and support 

Projecto PaleoAngola  has been supported by GeoBioTec-GeoBioSciences, GeoTechnologies and GeoEngineering NOVA [GeoBioCiências, GeoTecnologias e GeoEngenharias], grant UIDB/04035/2020, National Geographic Society (8039-06 and 8250-07), the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society (45227-AC8), ISEM at SMU, The Royal Dutch Embassy in Luanda, TAP Airlines, Royal Dutch Airlines, The Saurus Institute, Sonangol EP, Esso Angola, Maersk, Damco, Safmarine, ISEM, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  

Projecto PaleoAngola is a multinational, multifaceted project centered at SMU, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and Naturalis.  Angolan partners include Agostinho Neto University, Tundavala Private University.

Core Team 

Louis L. Jacobs (SMU and ISEM)

Octávio Mateus (paleontology, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)

Michael J. Polcyn (paleontology, imaging, SMU)

Anne S. Schulp (paleontology, Utrecht University & Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, the Netherlands)

Pedro Claude Nsungani (Universidade Agostinho Neto, Luanda)

António Olímpio Gonçalves  (geochemistry, Universidade Agostinho Neto, Luanda)