lizard of Egypt"
CRETACEOUS PERIOD: 112 - 97 million years ago
remains of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus were first described by a German
paleontologist in 1912 in central Egypt. A variety
of pieces were recovered including a skull and teeth. On the evening
of April 24, 1944, a British bombing run on Munich destroyed these and
many other rare fossil specimens.
Spinosaurus is estimated to
have been THE LARGEST of all meat-eating dinosaurs that ever lived.
With a length of 41 to 59 feet long, 20 feet high and weight estimates
from 4 to 20+ tons, it was truly a behemoth! Spinosaurus was considered a
bipedal dinosaur that is, one that walked on two feet although, its
robust arms could have been used to allow the animal to walk on all
fours at times. An extremely long snout was lined with an array of
straight, conical teeth.
Its most unusual
feature was a row of broad club-shaped spines 6 feet tall, projecting
upward from the backbone. It's believed that these spines were
covered with a sail of skin which could be raised by the creature as a
social display or as a way to regulate body temperature. Other
theories suggest the back sported not a tall sail but a large hump,
based on the robustness of the spiny dorsal processes of the vertebrae.
Theories also counter the notion that the sail was used to absorb heat
and instead, was used to allow the body to cool more rapidly or even
reflect heat from the hot, midday sun.
To this day, no other
dinosaur has been found with such tall and broad-shaped neural spines.
Fossil remains of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus are only found in the
North African Sahara Desert. Contrary to the inhospitable desert
environment where Spinosaurus fossils are found today, this region was a
vast swampy tropical paradise abundant with life during the Cretaceous
Period when Spinosaurus was alive and inhabiting its muddy river shores
and bogs. Paleoecology studies of the area where Spinosaurus fossils
are found indicates the environment was once a large tidal flood plain
with scattered channels and mangrove forests. This would have made
Spinosaurus a creature like a modern crocodile where it spent part of
its life in water and part on land. The conical teeth and
elongated snout of Spinosaurus indicate that, given the environment it
lived in, most likely had a varied diet of not only terrestrial
creatures but fish and other aquatic life, as well.
Misspellings: Spinasaurus, Spinosarus, Spineosaurus, Spinsaurus,
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