Spinosaurus

Means: Spiny or Thorn Lizard 

Period: Late Cretaceous, 99-94 Million Years Ago

Region: North Africa (Egypt and Morocco)

Regarded as one of the largest, if not the largest, meat-eating dinosaurs known to science.  Spinosaurus was formally named and described in 1915 by the famous German palaeontologist Ernst Stromer von Reichenbach based on fragmentary bones and teeth found in series of expeditions to the Bahariya depression in the Western Desert of Egypt.  Unfortunately, these fossils were destroyed by an allied bombing raid in World War II.  However, analysis of photographs and the original scientific drawings along with more recent fossil finds from Egypt and Morocco have revealed that this dinosaur was semi-aquatic and a quadruped.

Its size remains uncertain although several studies have concluded that Spinosaurus grew to 15 metres in length and weighed in excess of 9 tonnes.  Its jaws were long and narrow and the teeth were conical in shape and not serrated.  It has been suggested that this dinosaur spent most of its life in water and that if fed mainly on fish.

The function of the enormous sail is not known.  This structure was formed by elongated spines that were extensions of the back vertebrae.  The sail may have played a role in thermoregulation, helping to keep this dinosaur cool in its equatorial environment, but it also may have played a role in visual communication between spinosaurs.  It has also been suggested that the elongated spines supported a fleshy hump, where fat reserves could be stored.