She’s a beauty, isn’t she? The Spinosaurus restoration above is loosely based on a Goliath heron (most notably the rust-orange neck and head).
So, I promised a full blog post on Spinosaurus, and here it is. Known for stomping onto the big screen some-fifteen years ago, the villain of Jurassic Park III was, supposedly, a spinosaur. Boasting a huge body, amphibious tendencies, and usable arms, it served a replacement for the tested-and-true Tyrannosaurus. It even managed to kill a sub-adult bull rex in a short-lived battle, resulting in the spinosaur snapping the rex’s neck (we’ll talk about hand pronation and how that MK-finishing move can’t apply later).
Spinosaurus might’ve become a superstar in 2001, but we’ve known about this animal for a very long time. Discovered, described, and cataloged in the midst of the World Wars, the originally-found remains were destroyed in Germany. The largely-fragmentary findings afterward have been augmented by phylogenetic bracketing. A crocodilian snout, hook-like claws, and its pure mass have always given paleontologists a hint to its diet and lifestyle.
In 2014, a study on the morphology of Spinosaurus was launched by Ibrahim et al. The most surprising finding from the study was the size of Spinosaurus‘s hind limbs – they were laughably small. So small, in fact, that it was proposed that it might’ve lacked the ability to walk on land altogether. A follow-up by a different party in 2015 found the proportions to be too exaggerated, but the debate between Spinosaurus‘s bipedal locomotion (or lack thereof) continues to this day.
What we took away from this, as agreed by the scientific community, is that Spinosaurus displays numerous traits that point to a semi-aquatic lifestyle. Its hind limbs, though functional, were still much shorter when compared to other theropods. It had nostrils placed closer to the top of the skull. Oxygen isotopes in the teeth, when compared to other animals in the area, more closely resemble that of semi-aquatic animals than land-dwelling theropods.
The continuing research on Spinosaurus is a testament to the ever-changing face of paleontology. From bipedal, to ?, to ???, the more we understand about an animal, the more questions we make for ourselves. I just hope that the changes could slow down just a little so I can have a stable restoration on-hand.
Until next time!