Ruling the Waters: Massive African Dinosaur Spinosaurus Emerges as a Formidable ‘River Monster’ in Aquatic Environments

Researchers discovered 450 dinosaur teeth belonging to the Spinosaurus in a prehistoric river.

Paleontologists continue to piece together the mystery of the Spinosaurus, the biggest predator to ever walk the planet. The dinosaur roamed Morocco’s southeastern Kem Kem region 95 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in England who are investigating the Spinosaurus published their latest findings in the Cretaceous Research journal last week.

The researchers discovered 1,200 dinosaur teeth in a prehistoric river, of which 45% belonged to the Spinosaurus. The findings prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the dinosaur was an “enormous river-monster,” the paleontologists argue.

“We know of no other location where such a mass of dinosaur teeth has been found in bone-bearing rock,” said David Martill, professor of palaeobiology at the university, according to BBC.

“The enhanced abundance of Spinosaurus teeth, relative to other dinosaurs, is a reflection of their aquatic lifestyle,” Martill explained.

“An animal living much of its life in water is much more likely to contribute teeth to the river deposit than those dinosaurs that perhaps only visited the river for drinking and feeding along its banks.”

The teeth findings support the team’s hypothesis that the Spinosaurus, while a terrestrial dinosaur, spent much of its life in the water, sustaining itself with aquatic rather than terrestrial prey.

Until the discovery of the Spinosaurus, no researcher in the history of paleontology has ever found evidence of a terrestrial dinosaur spending most of its life in water.

The mystery of the Spinosaurus

During the Cretaceous Period, Morocco’s southeastern Kem Kem region was the most dangerous place on earth.

The Kem Kem beds were home to giant meat-eaters such as the 12-meter-long (40 feet) Bahariasaurus, the 12-meter (40 feet) Carcharodontosaurus — similar to a T. rex — and the 15-meter-long (49 feet), six-tonne Spinosaurus.

Paleontological studies have yielded little evidence of herbivores in the region, perplexing researchers. How could such massive predators survive in competition with each other and with minimal prey?

Moroccan-German paleontologist and researcher Nizar Ibrahim has dedicated years of his life to the mystery of the Spinosaurus. He hypothesized that the giant dinosaur lived in rivers rather than on land, doing most of its hunting underwater.

In April, the Portsmouth team published its findings on the Spinosaurus’ series of tall neural spines. They determined that the dinosaur had a flexible tail that enabled it to move swiftly underwater, unlike any other dinosaur. Laboratory experiments show the Spinosaurus tail could move laterally to create thrust, propelling it through the water like a crocodile.

The findings suggested the Spinosaurus terrorized both rivers and riverbanks as a semi-aquatic dinosaur, eating huge fish and even sharks. The Spinosaurus was still able to move on land,  perhaps walking on four legs rather than two, and lay eggs there.

The latest discovery of Spinosaurus teeth in a prehistoric river validates the team’s hypothesis that the Spinosaurus was the first and perhaps only aquatic dinosaur.

Sia

Related Posts

Unveiling Ancient Titans: Discovery of Pre-T. Rex Giant Dinosaur Reshapes Understanding of Prehistoric Predatory Hierarchy

Tyrannosaurs reign as the most famous of all meat-eating dinosaurs. But they didn’t always dominate, suggests the newly discovered bones of a massive carnivorous dinosaur that lived…

Once in a Lifetime Discovery: Mammoth Jaw Dating Back at Least 10,000 Years Emerges from the Depths of a Florida River

Fossil enthusiast John Kreatsoulas thought the artifact was a log, before he realized he was holding a bone from the last ice age. John Kreatsoulas pulled the…

100-Million-Year-Old Frog, Eggs in Belly, Likely Met a Gripping Fate During Ancient Mating Ritual

Frogs from the Mesozoic are rarely found in the fossil record, particularly those with eggs preserved. Image credit: Baoxia Du et al., Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,…

100-Million-Year-Old Frog, Eggs Inside, Entangled in Gripping Fate During Prehistoric Mating Ritual

Frogs from the Mesozoic are rarely found in the fossil record, particularly those with eggs preserved. Image credit: Baoxia Du et al., Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,…

Researchers Unearth Previously Unknown Mass Extinction Event Shaping Africa’s Enigmatic Past 30 Million Years Ago

Sixty-three percent. That’s the proportion of mammal species that vanished from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula around 30 million years ago, after Earth’s climate shifted from swampy…

Researchers Discover Previously Unknown Mass Extinction Event 30 Million Years Ago Unfolding Across the Enigmatic Terrain of Africa

Sixty-three percent. That’s the proportion of mammal species that vanished from Africa and the Arabian Peninsula around 30 million years ago, after Earth’s climate shifted from swampy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *