2010 Patterson Memorial Grant Recipient

Fatima Khaldoune

Fatima Khaldoune

I was born and raised in the city of Demnate, in the central High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, which is located a hundred Km NE of the city of Marrakech. I grew up surrounded by Continental Mesozoic beds. The small city of Demnate is indeed famous by its vicinity to a fossiliferous area that has yielded Jurassic dinosaur remains as well as nicely preserved dinosaur trackways.

After my high school diploma in experimental sciences in 2002, I moved to Marrakech to continue undergraduate studies at the faculty of Sciences Semlalia, University Cadi Ayyad of Marrakech. In 2006, I got a Bachelor's degree in fundamental geology, then a MASTER in 2008 in geodynamic, georessources and environment. This training in geology helped me to gain a good knowledge in various aspects of geology (stratigraphy, sedimentology, structural...). Thanks to this training I also gained a good experience for the field works through the numerous trips made in the framework of my university studies.

I started my PhD studies in 12/2008 in the laboratory "Biodiversity and Dynamic of Ecosystems [BioDecos]," a structure with two research teams shared between two departments, Biology and Geology, at the Faculty of Sciences of Marrakech.With the support of my research team "Vertebrate Evolution and Paleoenvironment, [EVEP]," especially my supervisor, Prof. N.-E. JALIL and his collaborators Drs. Ph. Janvier and J.S Steyer from the National Museum of Natural History of France, I could easily surpass the constraints posed by this reorientation.

After one year, I became acquainted with the biology, phylogeny and evolution of Permian and Triassic continental tetrapods, thanks also to the extensive bibliography available in my laboratory. My PhD project is to study Pemian and Triassic continental faunas throughout intensive field works in the Argana Basin (Morocco) as well as on the basis of fossils available in collections. Currently, I am preparing and studying new cranial and post postcranial remains of the Upper Triassic archosaur Azendohsaurus laaroussii, Dutuit, 1972 for a better understanding of its anatomy and phylogenetic relationships.

As a PhD student I participated to several field works in the framework of international and multidisciplinary collaborations. These have led to the discovery of several new localities among which a Permian new sites that has yielded cranial and postcranial remains (preparation in progress) of a basal tetrapod. These new findings give an idea of the richness of the Permian and Triassic beds of the Argana Basin and opens important perspectives for our fieldwork. Besides my scientific objectives, I would like to contribute to the constitution of a collection of reference on Permian and Triassic vertebrates in Marrakesh.

I am very thankful to be selected as one of the two winners of the Patterson Memorial Grant Award. This grant will allow me to intensify my fieldworks in the Argana Basin and will contribute to enhance our knowledge on continental vertebrates from the Permian and Triassic of Morocco and consequently of North African margin of Gondwana.


Photo courtesy of Fatima Khaldoune.