Step aside, T-Rex. Spinosaurus is the largest meat-eating dinosaur ever discovered. Not only that, its strange appearance is downright mythical. Think of a fantastic Asian dragon from story lore and you have the Spinosaurus.
- The first Spinosaurus discovery was in 1912 by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer. He found only a few bones, but he knew he’d discovered something new and special.
- The bones were displayed in a museum in Munich, Germany, but were destroyed by Allied Forces bombers during World War II.
- For over 70 years, scientists had only notes and drawings of the destroyed fossils to go on.
- In 2005, Italian paleontologists discovered more Spinosaurus bones in Morocco. This discovery was important because it confirmed that the theropodous dinosaur had a long, narrow snout like a crocodile.
- Then in 2014, Nizar Ibrahim discovered another Spinosaurus. From this specimen, we learned much more.
- We now know that the Spinosaurus had straight, sharp teeth, and its nostrils were placed high on its snout. We also know that it had strong arms with three claws, including one long, hooked claw.
- It also had very short, stubby back legs and webbed toes. It had dense bones, not hollow ones like other theropods.
- And weirdest of all, it had neural arches running along its back that could be 6 feet tall. These neural arches would have been covered with skin and resembled a sail.
- In looking at all this new information, scientists had to rethink what they knew about Spinosaurus. They realized that it was probably an aquatic animal, not a land animal. It didn’t need long back legs because it spent most of its time in the water.
- The sail on its back probably helped it stay warm by drawing heat from the sun to its body. Its bones were found in an area where fossils from other aquatic animals like turtles and crocodiles have been found.
Questions and Answers
Question: How big was Spinosaurus?
Answer: An adult Spinosaurus could be 50 feet tall from its tail to its nose. Scientists think that because it lived in the water, it didn’t have much competition from other predators.
Visit National Geographic to watch a video about Spinosaurus.