Spinosaurus is a very big theropod (meat-eating dinosaur) that lived during the Early Cretaceous period in North Africa. It is the longest theropod found so far. It is known for the tall sail/hump on its back and its croc-like face.
What was their body shape?[edit | edit source]
Spinosaurus was about 15 metres (45 ft) long and 4 metres tall, with the sail adding another 2 metres. According to scientists, it could've weighed between 5 and 17 tons, more likely the former. Its backbones had long projections called neural spines. The spines could have supported a sail of skin or a fatty hump, like a camel. Some possible functions of the spine sail could have been controlling body temperature (thermoregulation), and display — either to intimidate rivals or to attract mates. Its skull was 6 feet long and shaped like a crocodile's, with one little crest at the top, between the eyes. Its mouth had a notch at the tip, giving it a hook-like appearance.
What did they eat?[edit | edit source]
Spinosaurus was a predator that lived near and in water. Its croc-like snout was tipped with tiny holes and pits which contained nerves, so it could sense the water pressure. Its teeth were neither curved and blade-like as in Allosaurus or the raptors, nor thick and banana-shaped as in Tyrannosaurus, instead being smooth, straight and cone-shaped: perfect for impaling and holding fish. Its claws were curved for slashing and for stabbing small animals. Evidence for a fish-eating diet include a barb from a giant sawfish stuck in a jaw of a Spinosaurus. Other creatures that may were part of its diet include turtles, fish, small dinosaurs and even large crocodiles!
When did they live?[edit | edit source]
Spinosaurus lived 112 to 93 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous. It was the top predator in its region, alongside Carcharodontosaurus.
What was their habitat?[edit | edit source]
Spinosaurus lived in a habitat that may have been humid, like a swamp, where it could hunt coelacants, sawfish, groupers and ambush small crocodiles. Its fossils have been found in Egypt and Morocco, with possibly a similar dinosaur called Oxalaia found in South America.
How were they discovered?[edit | edit source]
The first fossils of this creature were found in 1916 by a German paleontologist called Ernst Stromer. The fossils were displayed in a museum in Munich, Germany. Unfortunately, the Allied Forces bombed the museum during World War ll, resulting in everything being destroyed. All that was left was a sketch of the animal's skeleton, so little was known about it. However, all was not lost.
In 2014, more complete remains were found, painting a better picture of this weird creature. A replica of the complete skeleton is on display in the National Geographic Museum, with a life-sized 3D printed statue standing outside the building.
What do we need to know?[edit | edit source]
- What color were they? The sail might have been brightly coloured to attract a female, or scare predators.
- Could it run?
- Was it really the biggest predator? Spinosaurus lived with the giant theropod Carcharodontosaurus and may have encountered it now and then.