Spinosaurus – Amazing Piscivore of the Early Cretaceous

Quick Biography

The Spinosaurus, also known simply as Spino, was a carnivore that did not live at the same time as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, another well-known Carnivore in the Mesozoic era. It got most of its “fame” from the third Jurassic Park movie and various books over the decades. At least, that’s when the public started knowing more about it. It lived in the early Cretaceous, whereas the T-Rex lived in the Late Cretaceous. They likely never met, as it was a very long time between them. One dinosaur similar to the Spino was the Suchomimus.

Quick Facts

  • Name: Spinosaurus
  • Period: Late Cretaceous
  • Size (m): 14
  • Weight (tons): 7.4
  • Diet: Piscivore
  • Diet: Carnivore
Spinosaurus head
© Wikimedia Commons

Discovery And Location

he spinosaurus lived in Northern Africa, whereas the T-Rex resided in North America. Although the Earth at the time was more of a singular landmass rather than multiple separate continents. The Spino was discovered by fossil hunter Richard Markgraf & German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in 1915.

Due to World War 1, the Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus (the ‘first’ Spinosaurus fossil) became a casualty of war. The original fossils were destroyed in a British bombing raid in 1944. Fortunately, Ernst Stromer had left detailed drawings and multiple photographs, so the ‘type’ remains available for analysis.

Spinosaurus -vs- human scale
© Wikimedia Commons

How Big Did It Grow?

The spinosaurus was among the largest of all known carnivorous and piscivorous dinosaurs. It was larger than the T-Rex size-wise (though the T-Rex was larger in weight!). Various estimates suggest that the Spino ranged from around 41 – 59 ft (12.6 to 18 Metres). It was approximately 7 Tonnes (Some games like The Isle have Spinos as 9 Tons, which is a bit much, in our opinion). Its jaw was similar to that of a modern-day crocodilian. It had more useful arms than the T-Rex, using them to help grab fish for its meals. As recently discovered in 2020, the Spinosaurus’ tail has a more paddle-like design. Their forearms had an enlarged claw on the first digit, which helped them to hold their prey.

Like most theropods, it was initially thought to have stood up with its tail near the ground. But as science advanced, the spinosaurus and other theropods like the T-Rex, Giganotosaurus, Acrocanthosaurus, and others were discovered to have had a more horizontal instead of a vertical stance.

What’s With The Sail?

The sail is an interesting aspect of the spinosaurus. Some people may feel that it looks odd, but it helped it easily navigate lakes, oceans, and deep rivers. Along with its paddle-like tail, this allowed it to be more agile in the water. It was bulky, so its swim speed may not have been the best, but it could quickly turn and bend to catch up to prey more easily.

Some theories say that the sail of the Spino may be what drew a female Spinosaurus to a male for mating purposes. It is said that the larger & more prominent the sail, the more favorable by females during the mating season. Stromer also speculated that the size of the neural spines may have differed in size between genders. If you think of the Spinosaurus’ sail like a Peacock’s tail, you may consider that the males with the flashier tails are more attractive to females.

Another theory is it helped with maintaining their internal body temperature. During the day, it’s said to have absorbed the sun, which helped perk up its metabolism, and at night, it would have radiated excess heat. This theory came to be because Dimetrodon may have used it in this manner. The issue with this is that evidence points to theropods as benign warm-blooded (endothermic). The more primitive Dimetrodon, though, was Ectothermic (cold-blooded).

A third theory was that it was used for navigation. This theory does make sense due to the new records, with its ‘new’ tail design. Due to this, it would have helped it with swimming due to its semi-aquatic lifestyle. This theory seems more likely, to us at least.

The final theory is that it helped with survival. This theory states that it was more like a camel’s hump. It may have stored fat reserves it could draw upon. But this would mean another complete redesign of its sail and a significant overhaul in books, TV, and Movies. The trouble with this is that the spinosaurus lived in the wet and humid forests of early-mid Cretaceous Africa.

The odds are that multiple of these theories were true. It may have been used for navigation, survival, and mating. Until more fossils are discovered, we may never fully understand how the Spinosaurus’ sail was used in their day-to-day lives.

Aquatic Life

Since the spinosaurus is a Semi-aquatic dinosaur, it likely spent a reasonable amount of time in or near water. The sail and tail were critical for them to easily navigate the water due to their size. Its paddle-like tail, sail, and webbed feet must have helped them with swimming in their daily life. These three aspects of their body shape indicate that they could swim similarly to other crocodilians.

They were likely very superb swimmers. They were not fully aquatic, like the Mosasaurus or Plesiosaurus. Still, they were in the water fairly often, requiring them to have the body shape they had during their entire lifespan.

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Spinosaurus In Media

Want To See This Creature LIVE?
Join in Kenson’s Streams if he’s playing a game with this dinosaur, he can switch to it upon request so you can see it in action!

Concluding Thoughts

The spinosaurus is indeed an amazing dinosaur. Although they have had a lot of body changes over the years, their overall shape and design have stuck to the same. The new spinosaurus tail design feels legitimate and flows well with the rest of their body design. Let us know your favorite parts of the spinosaurus in the comments!

Thank you for your time, have a rawrsome day, and we’ll see you next time in the Mesozoic Haven!

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