Ancient Spinosaurus Fossil Sheds Light on the Huge Semi-aquatic Dinosaurs

We have a variety of semi-aquatic creatures in our lives. Alligators, crocodiles, and others roam the land and sea. But imagine if we had to worry about enormous dinosaurs emerging onto the beach. That would certainly be something. But that absolutely could have happened back in the good old Cretaceous Period days. Analyzing a 125-million-year old fossil, scientists have uncovered more information about a group (or genus) of dinosaurs known as Spinosaurus. The Spinosaurus dinosaurs were enormous… and fierce.

In news we first saw on Gizmodo, a paper recently published to PLoS ONE sheds more light on these land and water-dwelling dinosaurs. According to the study, “Spinosaurids are some of the most enigmatic Mesozoic theropod dinosaurs due to their unique adaptations to aquatic environments and their relative scarcity. Their taxonomy has proven to be especially problematic.”

A recreation of the Spinosaurus dinosaur
Mateus, Estraviz-López et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

However, recent discoveries from Western Europe have helped us understand more about this dinosaur group. The latest of which is called the Iberospinus natarioi. Initially, scientists thought that the fossil in question belonged to a different dinosaur species. But upon a reexamination, paleontologists Octávio Mateus and Darío Estraviz-López found the fossil to be a new species altogether. This makes for an important discovery because it allows scientists to better understand spinosaurid evolution.

A release for the study shares a bit more about what this new fossil can tell us. Researchers reveal that the “new spinosaurid dinosaur from Portugal, which lived over 125 million years ago, had a crocodile-like skull, a spiny back, and may have been a wading, fish-eating predator.”

A recreation of the Spinosaurus dinosaurMateus, Estraviz-López et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0
Mateus, Estraviz-López et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0

Well, that certainly paints a picture. We guess it makes sense they had a crocodile-like skull, given the apparent similarities. But, of course, yet more research is necessary to understand precisely how these dinosaurs developed or who their descendants are. A life-like reconstruction of the dinosaur gives more color to the information the fossil reveal. The reconstruction shows us a “3D digitalization of some of the recovered bones, along with reconstructed musculature.” We always love how fossils can translate into reality.

According to Gizmodo, with bodies that reached up to 59 feet, the Spinosaurus dinosaurs rank among the largest ever carnivores in history. We even have evidence to suggest Spinosaurus dinosaurs could swim using their tails. Perhaps this genus of dino even ate more than just fish. Evidence suggests it may have even eaten sharks. We’d call that a true predator.

Of course, we still have much to discover about this and other dinosaurs. But every new fossil gets us one step closer to understanding the diversity of creatures that once roamed the earth. Would we want to meet a Spinosaurus dinosaur in a dark ocean? No. We would have to say we would not. But we sure do love imagining how they may have looked. And honestly, even if they could chow down on a shark… And even if they do have a spiny back, not good for petting… We feel they have a certain cuteness to them.

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