Mesozoic Era Cretaceous Period Dinosaurs Spinosaurus


Quick Facts
Name Meaning:Spine Lizard
Distribution:North Africa
Time Period:Cretaceous, 100 Ma
Possible Length:47 ft (14 m)
Height:18 ft (5.6 m)
Possible Weight:20 tons
Diet:Plant Life

Linnaean Classification
Cladistic Classification
  • Dinosauria
    • Saurischia
      • Theropoda
        • Tetanurae
          • Spinosauroidea
            • Spinosauridae
              • Spinosaurinae
                • Spinosaurus


The Spinosaurus was first known from discoveries in the Bahariya valley in Egypt in 1912. It was described and named by Ernst Stomer three years later. These remains included scattered vertebrae and hindlimb bones. They were later transported to Munich, Germany and were damaged in the process. During World War II these fragments were destroyed in 1944 but detailed drawings and descriptions were left behind. Recent discoveries of skull fragments in the 1990s have revealed the Spinosaurus as the largest known carnivore that has walked the earth, replacing the King of dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus. It has been featured prominently in modern pop-culture including a place as the primary carnivore in Jurassic Park III, where it was presented as larger and stronger than the Tyrannosaurus.


A full skeleton of the Spinosaurus has yet to be discovered. However, much is known about the dinosaur, including the fact that it was probably the largest discovered dinosaur to date. It had one of the largest known skulls of all carnivorous dinosaurs with a narrow snout full of teeth of various sizes. The snout also had a small crest along the top of its nostrils. A distinguishing feature of the Spinosaurus is the large spines along its back. Some of these spines would reach a length of 5.5 feet. These spines were probably connected by webbed layers of skin, although several paleontologists have hypothesized that large muscles were attached to the spines making it look more like a large hump instead of a webbed finger-like structure.


The Spinosaurus probably lived alongside other huge predators like Bahariasaurus and Carcharodontosaurus in what is now northern Africa. Evidence shows that it may have lived in water but could have lived on land as well, switching between the two. This means it probably had a large diet of fish and other aquatic animals making it a piscivore. It may have been similar to the modern grisly bear, which prefers fish as the bulk of its diet but will also scavenge for other foods as well. It was primarily a bipedal ranger but it is possible that it could have walked on four legs when needed. The hump it had could have been used for a variety of reasons. It could have been used for display to attract a mate, or to intimidate, or as thermal regulation. Perhaps it was a combination of several of these functions.

ScienceViews Writer: Jason Hamilton.

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