Scientists Speak about Spinosaurus

Paleontologists Discover Largest Predatory Dinosaur

Workers grind the rough edges off an anatomically precise, life-size Spinosaurus skeleton created from digital data. Scientists assembled a computer model from CT scans of fossils, images of lost bones, and extrapolations from related creatures, then expressed it in polystyrene, resin, and steel. Photo by Mike Hettwer/National Geographic (October edition)Paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and Paul Sereno are the scientists behind the discovery of Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur ever found. Described as "half duck, half crocodile," Spinosaurus is thought to have been semiaquatic and its discovery is forcing experts to rethink what they thought they knew about dinosaurs.

Spinosaurus is featured in the October edition of National Geographic magazine and is the subject of a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. that opened Sept. 12. The dinosaur is also the topic of a National Geographic/NOVA special airing on PBS at 9:00 pm on Nov. 5. 

Description

The Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is known as one of the largest and longest theropod dinosaurs. Measured at about 50 feet in length, this massive creature is the only known dinosaur to adapt to aquatic life. It is predicted they would swim the rivers of North Africa and prey in regions consisting of mostly large fish. View a graphic on the Spinosaurus.

Skull

Despite similarities to the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Spinosaurus featured a narrow skull. Its skull was comparable to a crocodile's profile today. It was also studded with short but still relatively sharp teeth. Paleontologists believe the Spinosaurus speared fish out of the water because of the skull's shape and the dinosaur's location to the north African shoreline. View a graphic about the Spinosaurus's skull.

Size

Spinosaurus was nine feet longer than the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen known to man. The very prominent sail that sat atop of the dinosaur was lined with tall neural spines growing on the back vertebrae. The lengths of the spines usually stretched 10 times the diameter of the vertebral body and were usually longer at the front and backs than at the higher up middle.