Scientists report first semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus: Massive predator was more than 9 feet longer than largest T. rex

Sep 14, 2014

By Science Daily

Scientists are unveiling what appears to be the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment. The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam Earth, measuring more than nine feet longer than the world’s largestTyrannosaurus rex specimen.

These findings, to be published Sept. 11 in the journal Science online at the Science Expresswebsite, are also featured in the October National Geographic magazine cover story available online Sept. 11. In addition, Spinosaurus will be the subject of a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum, opening Sept. 12, as well as a National Geographic/NOVA special airing on PBS Nov. 5 at 9 p.m.

An international research team — including paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and Paul Sereno from the University of Chicago; Cristiano Dal Sasso and Simone Maganuco from the Natural History Museum in Milan, Italy; and Samir Zouhri from the Université Hassan II Casablanca in Morocco — found thatSpinosaurus developed a variety of previously unknown aquatic adaptations.

The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing new fossils uncovered in the Moroccan Sahara and a partial Spinosaurus skull and other remains housed in museum collections around the world as well as historical records and images from the first reported Spinosaurus discovery in Egypt more than 100 years ago. According to lead author Ibrahim, a 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, “Working on this animal was like studying an alien from outer space; it’s unlike any other dinosaur I have ever seen.”

11 comments on “Scientists report first semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus: Massive predator was more than 9 feet longer than largest T. rex

  • I’ve never been a fan of the beast that we saw in Jurassic Park ///. The most impressive feature for me at the time – I was 15 – was the anatomy of the forelimbs. Now, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is utterly different from the image that a lot of people have of it. It’s the strangest dinosaur ever, in my opinion. I hope there won’t be people trying to debate the findings of the international team that published the discovery on the base of pure fanatism, like the fanatism about non-feathered dinosaurs.
    However, science never stops to amaze…
    …and, being me italian, I’m very happy that italian paleontologists had their part in the study. These guys are trying to improve the importance and the ‘print’ of paleontology in the italian culture. I met them 3 years ago and I’ve felt their enthusiasm and their passion. They are awesome!

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  • It’s beginning to seem that life on our planet has been far more diverse than we can even imagine; it’s very exciting!

    It’s just tragic that as the result of cumulative non random survival of randomly varying self replicating information, which, purely by chance evolved into Homo Sapiens, that we are making such a dog’s dinner of things, and in such short order; relatively speaking, we’ve only been at the party for a few minutes, and we’re already drunk with our own imagined importance.

    Let’s just hope that more discoveries like this will help us to put things into some kind of perspective.

    That’s my rant for the day.

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  • I suppose his massive sail-like feature makes more sense. Sounds pretty awkward, even dangerous to have these massive protrusions attached to your spine if you gonna lumber and hunt all day on land. If you were semi submerged most of the day, like a croc, and needed to catch some sun, that giant sail might do the trick for minimum effort and risk.

    Enormous dorsal spines covered in skin that created a gigantic “sail” on the dinosaur’s back. The tall, thin, blade-shaped spines were anchored by muscles and composed of dense bone with few blood vessels. This suggests the sail was meant for display and not to trap heat or store fat. The sail would have been visible even when the animal entered the water.

    scratch that!

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  • Well, fish could probably grow pretty big at that time too, so it’s not unfounded that the largest predator at the time found sustenance from water, just like the largest living animal today lives on aquatic sustenance.

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  • The great thing about liking dinosaurs is that palaeontologists will continue to dig up the fossils of amazing creatures that we could never have imagined. Now that Spinosaurus has been found to have smaller rear legs than originally envisaged I suppose that its overall weight will have to be drastically reduced, as well.
    As for the strangest dinosaurs, spinosaurus is up there, but the gigantic whale-sized sauropods must have had some biological tricks that were pretty strange, and, for bizarre looks, the therizinosaurs are hard to beat.

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  • Quirks and Quarks has good ten minute interviews with lead researchers. Per Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, it is Dr. Ibrahim (here).

    (Dr.) Paul Sereno

    Only thing hotter than the Sahara Desert.

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  • bonnie Sep 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

    @OP- Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago,

    Only thing hotter than the Sahara Desert.

    The “Sahara Desert” has also been a lot wetter at various times in the past!

    Valley of the Whales – An Egyptian desert, once an ocean, holds the secret to one of evolution’s most remarkable transformations.
    Thirty-seven million years ago, in the waters of the prehistoric Tethys Ocean, a sinuous, 50-foot-long beast with gaping jaws and jagged teeth died and sank to the seafloor.

    After extinctions, evolution tries a re-run with the new model to fit the niche!

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  • deserts, ocean…

    Yes, isn’t is fascinating, ancient creatures swimming like there’s no tomorrow, err.

    Western Interior Seaway bequeathed to us (among other things) limestone. Settlers in Kansas, not having trees, used limestone in lieu for fence posts and houses.

    Hunks from construction sites, for my garden, often were embedded with remnants of tiny inhabitants past.

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