Spinosaurus, the Biggest Carnivore
Spinosaurus was a carnivorous dinosaur that lived during the Middle Cretaceous period, about 93–100 million years ago, in what is now Egypt, Morocco, and the Republic of Niger. Its name means “spine lizard” due to its large, flat back spines, and it is classified as a spinosaurid, which is a type of large, meat-eating dinosaur.
The order, suborder, and family of Spinosaurus is Saurischia, Theropoda, and Spinosauridae. As far as we know, it was the largest carnivorous dinosaur, with a length of up to 60 feet and a weight of up to 9.9 tons (although, until a few years ago, paleontologists believed T. rex was the biggest carnivorous dinosaur). Here is a list of five interesting facts about Spinosaurus.
Spinosaurus Fact #1: Spinosaurus had a large sail made of long spines that were covered with skin. On average, this sail was as high as seven feet, and when Spinosaurus arched its back, the sail would rise up. Most paleontologists believe Spinosaurus’ sail was used to seduce the opposite sex, frighten other males, and control its body temperature.
Spinosaurus Fact #2: Spinosaurus had a mouth similar to a crocodile’s, and it had straight teeth like knives, which was different from other carnivorous dinosaurs that had curved teeth. These knife-like teeth could spear slippery prey, such as fish. However, it is believed Spinosaurus also ate smaller dinosaurs and sometimes was a scavenger, meaning it would eat dead dinosaurs it found, which is what T. rex did.
Spinosaurus Fact #3: Spinosaurus had a head almost six feet long with a narrow snout and straight teeth, and it had scaly skin that covered its neck. Spinosaurus is also considered to be an advanced theropod (walks on two legs), with a fairly high intelligence-which is measured by its brain size to body weight. Spinosaurus was bipedal, which means it walked on two legs, and it was very fast. Its arms were smaller than its legs.
Spinosaurus Fact #4: Spinosaurus may have been able to swim. Paleontologists from the University of Pennsylvania have found evidence that leads them to believe that the Bayharia Oasis in Egypt, where the first spinosaur fossils were found, used to be a Mangrove swamp similar to today’s Florida Everglades.
Spinosaurus Fact #5: Spinosaurus was first discovered in 1915 by the German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in Africa. However, the bones he discovered were destroyed by Allied bombs in 1944, during World War II.
Learn more about Spinosaurus in episode 300 of our podcast.