Spinosaurus

Category: Dinosaur

Spinosaurus (Spine-oh-sore-us) lived in the Early Cretaceous Period in Africa. Spinosaurus was one of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever known, and may have grown to over 50 feet long. It is known for the large dorsal spines on its back, which may have formed a large sail or hump. For a long time, Spinosaurus was only known from a few remains, but recent finds have allowed scientists to get a better idea of this unique theropod dinosaur.

Spinosaurus

Spinosaurus

Genera and Species

Classification: Theropoda, Spinosauridae

Genus: Spinosaurus (“Spine Lizard”)

Species: S. aegypticus, S. maroccanus

Characteristics

The first fossils of Spinosaurus revealed that its vertebra featured large spines which are believed to have supported a large sail while alive. Other scientists believe it may have supported a hump, like a bison. In any event, its purpose is not exactly known, though it may have served to help in temperature regulation or display.

Later fossils revealed more of this creature, including a crocodile-like snout with conical teeth that would have been ideal for catching fish. This established a connection to other similar dinosaurs like Baryonyx and Suchomimus, who are now placed within the same family (Spinosauridae).

In 2014, fossils were described that showed Spinosaurus was uniquely adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle, and was likely a good swimmer that spent much of its time in the water.

Size

LENGTH: 12 - 18 m (39 - 59 ft).

WEIGHT: 4 - 9 tons.

Behavior

Spinosaurus likely spent its time in mangrove swamps, swimming through the water in search of giant fish to eat. teeth were those of a fish eater and the mangroves were home to the giant fish. Earlier reconstructions based on less complete material led to the belief that it could have hunted diverse prey on both land and water, but recently it has been proposed that it likely fed almost exclusively on fish and other animals in or near the water.

History of Discovery

Discovered by Ernst Stromer in 1915, the original fossils were destroyed during a bombing in World War II. It is not sure that recent scrappy fossils found in Morocco are the same species as the originals from Egypt.

In the 1990s and 2000s, more fossils were discovered that revealed parts of the snout, head and teeth, revealing that its head featured a short crest and a long, narrow snout. These remains helped solidify the belief that it fed primarily on fish.

More complete remains discovered in 2014 were described by Nazir Ibrahim and Paul Sereno. Their description suggest that Spinosaurus may have been more suited to a four-legged manner of movement, with smaller hind limbs than previously thought. If accurate, this drastically new idea of Spinosaurus as a swimming, semi-aquatic creature makes it even more unique among the theropod dinosaurs.

Paleoenvironment

Found in north Africa and lived in Mangrove swamps.

References

  1. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/345/6204/1613
  2. Paul, G. (2016). The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, 2nd Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: University Press Princeton.
  3. Worth, G. (1999). The Dinosaur Encyclopaedia (pp. 2070). Scarborough, Western Australia: HyperWorks Reference Software.
  4. Griffin. (2010, July 9). Spinosaurus.