Spinosaurus ("spined lizard from Egypt") is a genus theropod that existed in what is now North Africa, from the Albian to early Cenomanian stages of the Cretaceous Period, about 112 to 97 million years ago.
FactsAccording to recent estimates, Spinosaurus may be the largest of all theropods, possibly even larger than Tyrannosaurus, Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. These estimates suggest that it was around 11.5 to 17 meters in length (38 to 57 feet) and between 7 and 12 tons in weight. This genus was first known from a set of Egyptian remains discovered in 1912 and described in 1915 by German paleontologist and aristocrat Ernst Stromer. These original remains were sadly destroyed in an Allied bombing run over Berlin during World War II, but additional skull material has come to light in recent years. It is unclear whether one or two species are represented in the described fossils. The best known species is Spinosaurus aegyptiacus from Egypt, although a potential second species named Spinosaurus maroccanus has been discovered in Morocco in recent times but it is most likely another animal. Spinosaurus is thought to have eaten large fish most of the time, but evidence suggests that it lived both on land and in water like a modern-day crocodilian.
Two species of Spinosaurus have been named: Spinosaurus aegyptiacus (meaning "Egyptian spine lizard") and Spinosaurus maroccanus (meaning "Moroccan spine lizard")The first described remains of Spinosaurus were found and described in the early 20th century. In 1912, Richard Markgraf discovered a partial skeleton of a dinosaur in the Bahariya Formation of western Egypt. In 1915, German paleontologist Ernst Stromer published an article assigning the specimen to a new genus and species Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.
Fragmentary additional remains from Bahariya, including vertebrae and hindlimb bones, were designated by Stromer as "Spinosaurus B" in 1934. Stromer considered them different enough to belong to another species, and this has been borne out. With the advantage of more expeditions and material, it appears that they pertain either to Carcharodontosaurus or to Sigilmassasaurus.
S. maroccanus was originally described by Dale Russell in 1996 as a new species based on the length of its neck vertebrae. Specifically, Russell claimed that the ratio of the length of the centrum (body of vertebra) to the height of the posterior articular facet was 1.1 in S. aegyptiacus and 1.5 in S. maroccanus. Later authors have been split on this topic. Some authors note that the length of the vertebrae can vary from individual to individual, that the holotype specimen was destroyed and thus cannot be compared directly with the S. maroccanus specimen, and that it is unknown which cervical vertebrae the S. maroccanus specimens represent. Therefore, though some have retained the species as valid without much comment, most researchers regard S. maroccanus as a nomen dubium or as a junior synonym of S. aegyptiacus.
General DescriptionSpinosaurus is estimated to have grown to 17 meters (57 feet) long and is one of the biggest carnivorous dinosaurs that lived. It got its name, which means "spine lizard," because of the tall spines on its vertebrae (bones of the spine), some reaching a height of six feet! They formed a sail along the animal's back, though not like those of the Permian mammal-like reptile Dimetrodon and Ouranosaurus, the hadrosaur that lived in the same time period and area.
Many theories surround the "sail", saying that it may have been a thermal regulator, releasing heat on hot days and absorbing heat on colder days. It also may have been used as a display to attract members of its own species and intimidate other species. However, new studies have shown that its "sail" is closer to resemble a crest or hump. This would add more muscle to its crest making its strength increase, however, not many believe this and considering how tall the spines are, it isn't likely. Spinosaurus was believed to grow 52 feet (16 m) long, 17-27 feet (5-7 m) tall (including sail), was 7-12 tons (14,000-24,000 lbs), had 6-foot (1.8 m) spines, 5-foot (1.5-meter) long, powerful arms, and had a 4-6 foot (1.3-1.8 m) skull, meaning Spinosaurus could be the largest carnivorous dinosaur that ever walked the Earth.
Even though the skeleton is incomplete, Spinosaurus shows several other interesting features. It's the largest theropod discovered to date. The teeth are different from other theropod teeth because they were conical and the serrations (the cutting ridges along the sides) were very small. These tooth features, along with the shape of the skull bones, show that Spinosaurus is similar to Baryonyx/Suchomimus. They are both part of the group spinosauridae, but Spinosaurus belongs to a sub-group known as spinosauridae, while Baryonyx belongs to a separate group known as baryonychidae, which have different features among their members.
Spinosaurus is believed to have eaten fish, but there has been controversy about a dinosaur of that size relying on just fish, no matter how big the fish were. It's most likely that Spinosaurus ate large fish most of the time, but in times of famine would likely scavenge large animals and hunt small to large-sized prey.
In 2014, Paul Sereno discovered that Spinosaurus' vertebrae actually had a dip in the sail and its legs were much shorter than previously thought. This has brought the suspicion that Spinosaurus was likely more aquatic than previously thought, spending nearly all of its time in the water, and almost all its entire diet was piscivorous based. Its shorter legs have also made scientists wonder if part of the time Spinosaurus was quadrupedal instead of bipedal like most theropods.
The original first skeleton of this theropod was destroyed during the course of World War II. However, a piece of a skull bone belonging to another Spinosaurus that was found on a shelf in a German museum. It is most likely that another expedition to Egypt would uncover more skeletons so that more can be learned about Spinosaurus. It also lived with sauropods like Paralititan, other large carnivores like Carcharodontosaurus and Sauroniops, and large crocodiles like Sarcosuchus.
In the Media
Spinosaurus has become an iconic dinosaur and its famous for the highly popular dinosaur movie: Jurassic Park ///, the only Jurassic Park film not based on a Michael Crichton book. Spinosaurus was portrayed as the main villain beast that caused destruction in his path. In an infamous scene, a Spinosaurus was seen fighting a Tyrannosaurus rex, though this fight could not have occurred in the specified time period as the two dinosaurs lived during different times of the Cretaceous Period. During the battle, the Tyrannosaurus had the advantage with its first bite. However, Spinosaurus out-muscled the Tyannosaurus rex and broke free using its strength and arms. Spinosaurus locks it powerful jaws onto the neck of the Tyrannosaurus, then uses its longer arms to dislocate the neck, causing the Tyrannosaurus to die.
Spinosaurus also appears in the Carnivores series, with an inaccurate anatomy.
Spinosaurus appears in series 4 of Primeval and is shown living in the same place as a Raptor (Dromaeosaurus). Another one appears in Series 5.Spinosaurus is also in Monsters Ressurected, portrayed as the "Biggest Killer Dino", where it was inacccurately shown to be the super top predator on land. It was seen lifting up a Rugops, kill a Carcharodontosaurus with a single slash of its claws, and slice up the sides of Sarcosuchus. The portrayal was noticably over-powered compared to the real animal, and although formidible it was unlikely to have been able to kill with a single strike of its claws. And Spinosaurus would be eaten is it ran into a Sarcosuchus A Spinosaurus, nicknamed "Spike", makes an appearance in the video game Jurassic: The Hunted, appears as a boss.
Spinosaurus appears in Bizarre Dinosaurs, where its sail is talked about.
Spinosaurus appears in the Japanese animated film Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur 2006, where it is the abused pet of an evil time-travelling dinosaur poacher. Also, near the climax, Spinosaurus faces off with Tyrannosaurus once again, only this time losing.
Spinosaurus appears in the first episode of Planet Dinosaur as a fish hunter and shown to hunt land animals if there is no aquatic animals to eat, and competes against a Carcharodontosaurus for an Ouranosaurus carcass and defeats it in battle. This, once again, shows that Spinosaurus wasn't just exclusive to fish. At the end, it was seen lying dead do to starvation from habitat loss.
It also is a playable character in Primal Carnage.
Spinosaurus also appears in the 12th episode of The Land Before Time, but is inaccurately shown with only two fingers.
A Spinosaurus makes a brief appearance in the Asylum film Age of Dinosaurs where it somehow is able to climb on top of a tall building.
Jurassic Park ///