That Helps Explain The Fin

I cannot claim that Jurassic Park 3 is my favourite of the JP films, and anyone who can probably isn't thinking straight. But I did applaud their choice in a new front line species for the franchise, even if in doing so they disregarded all accepted scientific knowledge about Spinosaurus aegyptiacus in favour of blind sensationalism (which, for the record, is my major beef with #3: it's all spectacle, no substance).

As it turns out, one of the most sensationalistic scenes in the film might not have been far from the truth. The Spinosaurus was a massive animal, much larger than T-rex, but the distinctive crocodilian skull had experts believing that it was a pescatarian, using the narrow snout to sift for fish along river beds. These theories were based mostly on a single complete skeleton discovered in 1912 and destroyed during a British bombing raid during the Second World War. Since then, only fragments of the holotype species have been discovered, meaning that most theories about aegyptiacus are actually inferences made based on other members of the family, such as the smaller Irritator, Baryonyx, and Suchomimus.

A new study has been published by Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist from the University of Chicago, who had the opportunity to study an apparently complete skeleton discovered by a private collector in the Kem Kem fossil beds in eastern Morocco. While some doubt remains about the authenticity of the find, the skeleton was genuine. And the ability to study an apparently complete skeleton gave the researchers a refreshed and modern chance to examine the animal. According to the study, the hind limbs were short and ill equipped to running that is found in most predatory dinosaurs. Additionally, the feet appear to have a paddle like design. The bones in generally have a higher density, something common to animals which spend a majority of their time in the water.

While the belief at the start and for most of the twentieth century was that the large, cumbersome dinosaurs would have had to spend their lives wading in water to support their weight, these new discoveries might prove that notion true for this single species. If so, then  Spinosaurus is the first aquatic dinosaur species ever identified, because (of course) aquatic reptiles like Plesiosaurs were not dinosaurs.

Via the BBC.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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