Fun Facts About Spinosaurus!

In a big river running through the marshes of North Africa lurks a deadly hunter called the Spinosaurus. Standing deep in the water, the Spinosaurus breathes through nostrils set deep in its head, with the majority of its jaws submerged under water. Using pressure sensors at the end of its snout, the Spinosaurus feels when a huge fish, the size of car, swims closer and closer. As the fish passes by, the Spinosaurus lunges forward and catches the fish in its crocodile-like jaws. The fish struggles but the Spinosaurus holds on tight, hooking the fish with its razor sharp claws and gobbling it down, before wading off in search of its next victim. 

This dinosaur is the Spinosaurus and it is the hunter sitting at the top of the food chain in this watery environment. The Spinosaurus was even longer than the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex and had a distinctive sail on its back, which looked like a big fin. The sail might have helped it attract mates or scare off other dinosaurs. 

Spinosaurus Videos For Kids

What Does ‘Spinosaurus’ Mean?

The name Spinosaurus means ‘spine lizard’ and when you look at pictures of this amazing dinosaur you’ll understand why it was given that name! The Spinosaurus had long spines up to 2.1 meters (7 feet) long growing out of the bones in its back. These spines were connected together by a layer of skin to form a huge sail, making this enormous dinosaur look even bigger than it really was!

Who Discovered The Spinosaurus?

The first bits of Spinosaurus skeleton were discovered in 1912 by a German fossil collector called Richard Markgraf in Egypt. The German scientist Ernest Stromer created detailed drawings of the bones and named the Spinosaurus in 1925, but that first skeleton was destroyed by British bombers raiding Munich during World War II.

Where did the Spinosaurus live?

The Spinosaurus lived in the swamps, rivers and lakes of North Africa. Millions of years ago, what is now the Sahara desert used to be a large, marshy river system that was often covered by sea. The Spinosaurus evolved to hunt in and around water, but sometimes in the summer it was forced to hunt on land too, when long droughts meant the lakes and rivers dried out.

What Did The Spinosaurus Look Like?

The Spinosaurus walked on two short, strong back legs. On one side was its long body with powerful arms and a narrow crocodile-like snout. Balancing it on the other side was a long tail. Paul Sereno, a science professor at The University of Chicago confirms that the Spinosaurus “had a center of gravity over its hips and stood upright”. The most eye-catching feature of the Spinosaurus was definitely the row of long boney spikes that formed a sail along its back and could reach 2.1 meter (7 foot) high. Scientists think the sail could have been used for display, so just like a peacock’s feathers, the sail might have been used by the Spinosaurus to attract mates. The sail might even have been brightly colored, similar to the fins of reptiles today. Another use of the sail could have been to warn off other dinosaurs, as it would have made the Spinosaurus’s body appear twice as big as it really was! Though not too many dinosaurs would want to try and attack this massive dinosaur anyway. 

Could The Spinosaurus Swim?

Most scientists agree that the Spinosaurus could swim, but they’re not sure whether it a was good swimmer or not? Some scientists think the Spinosaurus could swim around in lakes chasing after fish, whilst others think it just waded into the water and lurked by the edge to surprise its prey as they swam by.

One thing’s for certain, it was certainly adapted to hunt in the water. It had a long, thin snout like a crocodile with interlocking cone-like teeth, perfect for holding on to slippery fish. This was very different from the saw-like teeth of land-based meat eaters, which were designed for tearing flesh apart. Its nostrils were higher up on its head than land based dinosaurs, so it could breathe while its mouth was under water. The snout also had small openings on the tip, which scientists think could be used to detect pressure changes in the water made by the movements of fish when hunting in muddy water or at night, in a similar way to crocodiles.

The Spinosaurus had a wide paddle-like tail with loosely connected bones which it could bend in a wave in the water like an eel to propel itself forward. Its short powerful legs had wide, flat claws and feet, which might even have been webbed like a duck, to paddle in the water or walk on soft muddy surfaces. The Spinosaurus’s bones were also dense, without any air inside that might force them to the top of the water, which is similar to the bones of king penguins.

What Did The Spinosaurus Eat?

The Spinosaurus ate all kinds of animals that lived in the rivers and lakes where it hunted. Whilst the Spinosaurus’s jaw was powerful, the teeth didn’t have the saw-like shape that other meat eaters use for tearing into tough prey. Its interlocking cone-like teeth and crocodile-like jaw was perfect for spearing and holding onto slippery fish. It also had long scythe shaped claws on its hands to hook the fish and rip them apart. So the majority of its diet would be animals that swam in the rivers like giant coelacanths, giant sawfish called Onchopristis, large lungfish and sharks, which could have been several meters long. But the Spinosaurus didn’t just eat fish, its teeth have been found in the remains of other animals, including a Cretaceious Pterosaur, a flying reptile which was a relative of the Pterodactyl. So, it clearly hunted other animals too!

How Big Was A Spinosaurus?

The Spinosaurus was a truly massive dinosaur, bigger even than the Tyrannosaurus or the Giganotosaurus! With a maximum length of around 15 meters from nose to tail, the Spinosaurus is the longest meat eating dinosaur that scientists have ever discovered. It stood over 5 meters tall and at around  2.1 meters high (7 feet) even its sail was bigger than most basketball players in the NBA!

how big is a spinosaurus
how tall is a spinosaurus

Paul Sereno, a science professor at the University of Chicago, calculates that the Spinosaurus weighs 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms or 7.5 tons). As the average American man weighs 200 pounds, that means one Spinosaurus would weigh the same as 75 men, which is about the same weight as a large African bush elephant!

how much does a spinosaurus weigh
spinosaurus weight

Spinosaurus vs. T-Rex

The Spinosaurus was extinct before the T-Rex wandered the earth, so they would never have bumped into each other face to face. But what if they did? 

Measuring 15 meters from nose to tail, the Spinosaurus was even longer than the Tyrannosaurus Rex which measured around 12 meters. The Spinosaurus however had shorter back legs, measuring 2.35 meters from the ground to the hip, compared to the taller T-Rex which was 3.73 meters tall at the hip. In terms of total weight the biggest current estimate for the Spinosaurus is around 15,000 pounds which is around the same weight as the T-Rex.

And if they fought? Well the T-Rex was used to hunting other land based dinosaurs, whereas the Spinosaurus was used to hunting fish. Whilst these 2 apex preditors would have been unlikely to have picked a fight with each other even if they did exist at the same time, if it did happen the T-Rex would probably have an advantage.

Spinosaurus vs. T-Rex Size Comparison
Spinosaurus vs. T-Rex Weight Comparison
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