An island continent, at the time, they say:
The study, published in Cretaceous Research, reports the new dinosaur, Ajnabia odysseus, from rocks in Morocco dating to the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Ajnabia was a member of the duckbill dinosaurs, diverse plant-eating dinosaurs that grew up to 15 meters long. But the new dinosaur was tiny compared to its kin- at just 3 meters long, it was as big as a pony.
Duckbills evolved in North America and eventually spread to South America, Asia, and Europe. Because Africa was an island continent in the Late Cretaceous, isolated by deep seaways, it seemed impossible for duckbills to get there.
The discovery of the new fossil in a mine a few hours from Casablanca was “about the last thing in the world you would expect,” said Dr. Nicholas Longrich, of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, who led the study. Dr. Longrich said: “It was completely out of place, like finding a kangaroo in Scotland. Africa was completely isolated by water – so how did they get there?”University of Bath, “Dinosaurs Once Crossed Oceans: First Duckbill Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Africa” at SciTech Daily
Well, how did they?
Ocean crossings are rare, improbable events, but have been observed in historic times. In one case, green iguanas traveled between Caribbean islands during a hurricane borne on debris. In another, a tortoise from the Seychelles floated hundreds of kilometers across the Indian Ocean to wash up in Africa.
“Over millions of years,” said Longrich, “Once-in-a-century events are likely to happen many times. Ocean crossings are needed to explain how lemurs and hippos got to Madagascar, or how monkeys and rodents crossed from Africa to South America.”
But the fact that duckbills and other dinosaur groups spread between continents, even with high sea levels, suggests dinosaurs traveled across oceans as well. “As far as I know, we’re the first to suggest ocean crossings for dinosaurs,” said Longrich.University of Bath, “Dinosaurs Once Crossed Oceans: First Duckbill Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Africa” at SciTech Daily
From Evolution News and Science Today, a summary of the reasoning:
The article lays out the logic by which they inferred that duckbilled dinosaurs must have rafted to Africa:
We know that universal common ancestry is true; this is an inviolable fact.
Duckbilled dinosaurs are known from North America, South America, and Europe — regions connected by a land bridge in the Cretaceous.
This fossil of a type of duckbilled dinosaur was found in Africa.
But Africa was a continent isolated by oceans at this time.
How can we explain this? It’s impossible that universal common ancestry is false. Therefore, duckbilled dinosaurs must have rafted or swam across oceans to arrive in Africa.Evolution News, “More Just-So Rafting Stories: This Time, Dinosaurs” at Evolution News and Science Today
It’s absurd? Yes, so? One thing we’ll need to get more used to is unblinking absurdities spouted in the name of “science.”
At least this one isn’t particularly harmful.
Note: Is it worth considering that 1) Africa wasn’t as inaccessible as now thought. Maybe there were many now-vanished archipelagos. Or 2). Convergent evolution may be at work.