Previously-known Spinosaurus was a dinosaur that blew my mind. I couldn’t figure out the deal with the sail and the ultra-long snout. Turns out it had more surprises in store.
Scientists today unveiled what appears to be the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment. The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam the Earth, measuring more than nine feet longer than the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.
The findings from an international team was published Sept. 11 in the journal Science online and also featured in the October National Geographic magazine cover story. Spinosaurus is the subject of a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum and as a National Geographic/NOVA television special coming in November (where we see the stylized scientific discovery process).
The team of paleontologists, Nizar Ibrahim, Paul Sereno, Cristiano Dal Sasso, Simone Maganuco and Samir Zouhri, discovered several aquatic adaptations from new fossils from the Moroccan Sahara and fossils housed in various collections. The adaptations included an undersized pelvis, which made walking on land likely very difficult, and nostrils high up on the head. Also, the tail appeared to be able to move laterally to aid in swimming. Many dino tails are rigid and can not move this way.
There are tons of good stories about the new findings but also a pile of bad ones including those that call out Creationist Kirk Cameron who once ridiculously asked why isn’t there a “crocoduck” if evolution is true. He displayed his utter ignorance about how genetics and decent with modification works. Spinosaurus was not, by any means, genetically or physically in-between a duck and crocodile. There is no such thing. However, its features may have included webbed feet (speculation), and the jaw is huge and could snap up aquatic animals to devour, very crocodile-like.
It’s important not to use misleading analogies in writing about science. That can end up being more confusing than helpful (like this). People are likely to assume wrongly about Spinosaurus because of the misleading headlines that it was some sort of hybrid. We’ll try to do our little part to fix that: It was not a crocodile, not a duck, not a crocoduck, but a really freaky dinosaur (that continues to blow my mind). We still don’t know what the hell the sail was for.
First Swimming Dinosaur Was ‘Half-Duck, Half-Crocodile’. Good article, CRAPPY headline.
Scientists Report First Semiaquatic Dinosaur, Spinosaurus – National Geographic Society Press Room. Of course another problem is constantly comparing predatory dinosaurs to the T. Rex standard.
Bizarre dinosaur with jaws like a crocodile, feet like a duck unveiled – CBS News. As usual, people ask stupid questions like if two certain things fought, who would win.
*Facepalm* Why does awesome science finds have to be portrayed with references to Transformers?
More technical but done by those who know what they are talking about. There’s something fishy about the new SpinosaurusScott Hartman’s Skeletal Drawing.com and part 2
What happems when Spinosaurus runs ashore… | Luis V. Rey Updates Blog.