With its massive size, unusual scales and fearsome crocodile-like skull, the Spinosaurus has long been a favorite with dinosaur fans. Its appearance is so distinct that it has been described as even bigger and more powerful than the ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex in the movie Jurassic Park III. .
However, despite its popularity, scientists know little about Spinosaurus. Its fossils have proven almost impossible to find. To date, archaeologists have only discovered seven of these fossils – the most complete set has been found in eastern Morocco.
So researchers are delighted that new remains of the mighty dinosaur have been unearthed on the southwest coast of the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England.
Spinosaurus: Possibly the greatest hunting dinosaur
In a study published in the journal PeerJ Life & Environment, researchers say the fossils are around 125 million years old.
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“It was a huge animal, more than 10 meters long, and judging by its dimensions, it is probably the largest hunting dinosaur ever discovered in Europe,” said the team’s lead author. , Chris Baker, of the University of Southampton.
Where did the Spinosaurus come from?
The researchers say the discovery supports a hypothesis that Spinosaurus originated in Western Europe, where it split into several species before migrating further.
Related Spinosauri groups have also been found in southern England, Brazil, Niger, Thailand, and Laos.
When was Spinosaurus first discovered?
The first Spinosaurus skeleton was discovered in 1912 in the Egyptian oasis of Bahariyya by Austrian paleontologist Richard Markgraf. It was classified as Spinosaurus aegyptiacus in 1915 by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach.
Unfortunately, some of the fossils were badly damaged when they were transported from Egypt to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, and the remaining bones were lost in a 1944 air raid on the Alte Akademie museum in Düsseldorf.
So how big was Spinosaurus?
Since there are few other surviving specimens, scientists can only estimate the height and weight of an adult Spinosaurus.
Spinosaurus was possibly between 15 and 18 meters (49-59 ft) long and weighed between six and nine tons. Its skull alone measured approximately 1.75 meters, making it one of the longest of all meat-eating dinosaurs.
And how did Spinosaurus walk and hunt?
Some features, such as its paddle-like webbed feet and fin-like tail, suggest that Spinosaurus hunted fish in shallow water.
On land, Spinosaurus may have walked on two legs. With its long neck and long trunk, the dinosaur probably had a very forward-leaning center of gravity.
Fossils found on the Isle of Wight – which include pelvic bones and vertebrae – show that after death a number of scavengers likely attacked the two-legged Spinosaurus.
Researchers now want to examine thin layers of fossils under a microscope to accurately calculate the age and other information about the dinosaur’s growth.