Giant Semiaquatic Predatory Dinosaur

It is called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus but it sounds a bit more like Godzilla. Spinosaurus is a theropod dinosaur (that's the groups birds evolved within) found in what is now NOrth Africa, between about 112 and 97 million years ago. It was first discovered about one century ago, though those bones were destroyed during WW II. Spinosaurus aegyptiacus might be the only species of this genus, or there may be two. It is probably the largest carnivours dinosaur, up to 18 meters in length. Up top of the post is the picture from Wikipedia. Although the head looks a lot like a crock, you can see the overall Godzilla-esque body.

A paper out today in science presents a detailed analysis of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus's aquatic adaptations. Writing for Science, Michael Balter notes:

Researchers have long debated whether dinosaurs could swim, but there has been little direct evidence for aquadinos. Some tantalizing hints have appeared, however, in claimed "swim tracks" made by the bellies of dinos in Utah and oxygen isotopes indicating possible aquatic habitats in a group of dinosaurs called spinosaurs. Now, a research team working in Morocco has found the most complete skeleton yet of a giant carnivore called Spinosaurus [which] confirm that Spinosaurus was bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, but also show that it had evolutionary adaptations—ranging from pedal-like feet to a nostril far back on the head to high bone density like that of hippos—clearly suited for swimming in lakes and rivers.

The scientists describe Spinosaurus aegyptiacus as "semiaquatic." It's pelvis is small, hind limbs short, and as mentioned, its limb bones are solid to act as balast. It's hind limbs may have acted as quasi-flippers while in water. The dorsal sail "may have been enveloped in skin that functioned primarily for display on land and in water." They say nothing about its ability to exhale nuclear fire-breath. Perhaps that will be ascertained with further study.

Here are some of the bones and a semi-reconstructed skeleton:

F2.large

Of related interest:

  • Titanic Fearless Dinosaur Unearthed
  • Flying Dinosaurs: A New Book on the Dinosaur Bird Link
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    Spinosaurus had some dangerous weapons. He had a bite force of about 2 tons, and he had long strong arms with 6-8 in. claws that could make cuts over 2 in. deep. Like Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus could kick with his legs but would most likely not for the same reasons. Those are the weapons of Spinosaurus.

    By larsjaeger (not verified) on 09 Oct 2014 #permalink

    I wonder if the timeline is anything near right for this sort of dinosaur to have evolved into something like the mosasaurs like Kronosaurus and whether that's any kind of possibility?

    (Also only three comments here, I am surprised - is there another missing page of them or something?)

    By Astrostevo (not verified) on 24 Dec 2014 #permalink

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronosaurus

    Plus :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosasaur

    Plus :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3D4AA_l6c3w

    'Liopleurodon: Jurassic Sea Monster' on youtube clips from 'Walking with Dinosaurs' TV doco. An impressive creature indeed! Timeline for evolutionary link could well be wrong though given this is Jurassic and Spinosaurus was Early-Late Cretaceous - maybe a distant common ancestor between them?

    Hmm.. actually do I recall vaguely that the sea monsters weren't related to dinosaurs after all? D'oh. There goes that speculation then I guess!

    By Astrostevo (not verified) on 24 Dec 2014 #permalink