The New Spinosaurus
by Brian Switek
Spinosaurus has changed dramatically since I was a kid. The model I used to terrorize my other toys with looked like an overgrown Allosaurus with a giant sail on its back.
As paleontologists rearranged the dinosaur family tree and found new species, however, they realized that Spinosaurus was a very different sort of animal, allied with croc-snouted, heavy-clawed dinosaurs like Baryonyx. When Spinosaurus finally tore up the celluloid in 2001′s Jurassic Park III, it was as a monstrous carnivore with giant claws, an elongated snout filled with conical teeth, and a flashy fin atop its back. And the evolution of Spinosaurus imagery has not stopped.
A paper out in Sciencexpress today proposes that Spinosaurus was far stranger than paleontologists expected.
The core of the new study, led by University of Chicago paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, is a partial skeleton of Spinosaurus found in the 97 million year old rock of Morocco. The importance of the new specimen is in revealing parts of Spinosaurus never seen before. The skeleton includes parts of the skull and some vertebrae, but the real keys to the new Spinosaurus are the hips and hindlimbs…
(read more: Laelaps - National Geographic)
illustration by Davide Bonadonna; skeletal by Tyler Keillor, Lauren Conroy, and Erin Fitzgerald