Spinosaurus

spinosaurus at Wingham Wildlife Park

Distribution:

This very large dinosaur roamed North Africa, particularly the swamps where modern day Egypt and Morocco are.

Time Period:

Spinosaurus lived during the Cretaceous period which was 112- 97 million years ago. This was the third and final segment of the Mesozoic Era. Until this Era the continents which exist today were fused into one continent called Pangaea. Although Pangaea had already begun to separate earlier in the era, the Cretaceous period saw the super continent separate across the planet’s surface. The change caused the climate to slowly cool and the continents and oceans familiar to us today started to take form. Many dinosaurs adapted to these changes well. However, the period ended in the mass extinction of all dinosaurs after an asteroid hit the planet.

Size:

Spinosaurus was a massive 15 meters (49 ft) long and stood 5 meters (17 ft) high, weighing 9 metric tons on average but the largest of the species could have reached up to 18 meters in length. This makes it the biggest carnivorous dinosaur to have ever lived.

Diet:

This carnivore fed mostly on fish, possibly including sharks and giant coelacanths. A tooth belonging to a dinosaur from this family was found in a Pterosaur (a flying reptile) suggesting that they also hunted or scavenged land dwelling animals too.

Interesting Facts:

Even though Spinosaurus lived mainly on land, it spent a lot of it’s time in the water and was a strong swimmer. Its name means ‘spine lizard’ due the huge spines on it back which formed its sail. The sail alone could grow up to 2.1 meters (7 ft). It’s thought that it may have been used to attract a mate and as a form of defence. From the side it would have made this dinosaur look huge and could have deterred other species from attacking it.

They had short hind limbs (like early whales), a long snout and powerful jaw. It’s teeth however, weren’t serrated so it’s unlikely that it could tear flesh off its prey which lends further support to the theory that they survived mostly on fish.