The Spinosaurus Is Now The First Known Swimming Dinosaur. Here’s What We Know.

Your dinosaur-loving kids are going to want to see this! Paleontologists recently uncovered fossils in Morocco that suggest Spinosaurus aegyptiacus dinosaurs had an oar-shaped tail. 

National Geographic

This discovery means that dinosaurs weren’t just land dwellers. Swimming dinosaurs existed too! This discovery is absolutely HUGE, and the reconstruction of the first-ever swimming dinosaur is awesome. 

Many paleontologists over the decades have tried to reconstruct the Spinosaurus. They agreed the anatomy was different than most land dinosaurs. But they disagreed about how much time the Spinosaurus spent in the water. They were missing some crucial pieces — or fossils — of this dinosaur puzzle. 

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Photo by @paoloverzone | In Morocco, a joint team of paleontologists and students from the University Hassan II Casablanca and the University of Detroit Mercy unearth a large spinosaurus bone under the supervision of Nizar Ibrahim. This was one of the most exciting moments in the excavation. Spinosaurus was one of the largest predatory dinosaurs of all time. It is named after the elongated dorsal spines that supported an enormous “sail” of skin. In contrast with other dinosaurs, which are predominantly terrestrial, a long list of anatomical features indicates that spinosaurus was adapted to live in freshwater, like crocodiles and hippopotamuses. Follow me @paoloverzone for more photos and stories. Check out Nat Geo’s link in bio for more on this story.

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Fun Facts About Spinosaurus Dinosaurs

Prior to this discovery this is what paleontologists and archaeologists knew about this “weird” dinosaur:

  • They were 50-feet long when full grown — which is even bigger than a T-Rex!
  • They weighed 7 tons
  • They lived during the Cretaceous period, more than 97 million years ago. 
  • They had a large sail shape across their back. 
  • Leg fossils suggested they could walk on land.
Source: National Geographic
  • Their skulls, shaped like a crocodile’s, along with conical teeth, suggested they ate fish. 
  • Their thick bones are like those found in manatees and penguins
  • Spinosaurus fossils have been uncovered across four continents. 
  • Paleontologists thought they had a long, narrow tail. 

Uncovering A Dinosaur Fin

A paleontologist named Nizar Ibrahim was in charge of the fossil dig that uncovered this massive discovery. The dig started in 2018 in the Kem Kem beds of Morocco. The crew cleared away sandstone. They discovered piece after piece of vertebra, or parts of the dino’s tail, as well as foot bones. They knew it was a Spinosaurus, because some of the tail pieces matched past fossil findings. Back at a lab in Casablanca, they put all the pieces together. 

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Samir Zouhri, Professor of Paleontology, Hassan II University of Casablanca scouting a new site in the Moroccan desert. This image is part of a story about an incredible discovery of a Spinosaurus in the Moroccan desert just published by @natgeo. Spinosaurus was one of the largest predatory dinosaurs of all time. It is named after the elongate dorsal spines, that supported an enormous “sail” of skin. In contrast with other dinosaurs – which are predominantly terrestrial animals – a long list of anatomical features are indicative of Spinosaurus being adapted to live in freshwater, like crocodiles and hippopotami. Link to the whole article in my bio. #morocco #spinosaurus @vu_photo

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Imagine how thrilling it was for Ibrahim and his team when they realized what they had discovered! They found evidence of a dinosaur who could swim using a 6-foot tail shaped like a paddle. How amazing is that? 

After the discovery, Ibrahim enlisted some help from Harvard to digitally model what the Spinosaurus looked like… and how it moved. Through technology and testing they learned that the Spinosaurus could use its fin to deliver eight times the forward thrust compared to the tails of other dinosaurs! That’s a whole lot of underwater power! 

The dinosaur discoveries are far from over. Paleontologists are now looking into whether the Spinosaurus had webbed feet! Isn’t it crazy, how even after millions of years, people are discovering new things about dinosaurs? We can’t wait to see what they discover next. 


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