Spinosaurus Facts: Extinct Animals of the World

A 3D rendering of a Spinosaurus.
A 3D rendering of a Spinosaurus.

The Spinosaurus is one of the most ancient dinosaurs which were found in North Africa. It derives its name from its protruding spine which resembles a fish’s dorsal fin. The Spinosaurus is sometimes called the spine lizard. The Spinosaurus existed during the Cretaceous period around 112-97 million years ago. The fossils of the Spinosaurus were first discovered by Ernst Stromer who was a German paleontologist in 1912.

They are among the largest carnivores of all time

With an estimated length of 50 feet long, the Spinosaurus were the largest carnivorous dinosaurs that ever existed. They are believed to have been the same size or larger than Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus. Spinosaurus could grow as long as 15 m and were very tall as well. They fed on very large sea creatures such as sharks, large lungfish, sawfish, and giant coelacanths and they also hunted terrestrial prey.

They had long spines

It has been discovered that some of the neural spines of the Spinosaurus were more than 5 feet tall. Scientists believe that the long spines enabled them to move in water bodies looking for their prey. These spines were arranged in a design that made people refer to them as sail-backs. The spines had dense bones and a few blood vessels. There are a number of dinosaurs that also had a sail-back similar to that of Spinosaurus. Examples of such dinosaurs include Ouranosaurus and the Deinocheirus. The Spinosaurus used its sail-back to regulate its body temperatures. It could store fat and absorb heat. However, the function of thermoregulation has been disputed by some paleontologists who think the sail-back was only a display structure.

Their best fossils were destroyed in World War II

Ernst Stromer, a German paleontologist, discovered remains of the Spinosaurus in Egypt shortly before the World War I. Subsequently, the remains were transported to Germany and preserved at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. The British Royal Air Force destroyed these fossils in an Allied Bombing raid in 1944 during the World War II. Most of the fossils were either burned or broken during the warfare. This has made it difficult for paleontologists to perform more studies on the Spinosaurus. Additionally, it has been frustratingly rare to find more of these fossils anywhere in the world. Most recently, a species named S. maroccanus was discovered in Morocco.

The Spinosaurus was occasionally quadruped

The habitat of the Spinosaurus was mostly water. It was piscivorous meaning its diet was made of fish. However, sometimes the dinosaur would get out of the water. During those times, it is believed that it would walk on its fours and it was quadruped.

They had very unique teeth

The dinosaur had a complex assortment of teeth. It had two giant canine teeth protruding in its front upper jaw and larger teeth at the back of the snout. In addition, it had straight, conical, and grinding teeth. In total they had 14 teeth in the premaxillae and another 12 in the maxillae. Besides fish, the strong teeth enabled the Spinosaurus to feed on servings of birds, mammals, and other dinosaurs.


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