Spinosaurus (meaning "spine lizard") is a genus of theropoddinosaur which lived in what is now North Africa, sometime during the Albian and Cenomanianstages of the Cretaceousperiod, about 112 to 93.5 million years ago. This genus was first known from Egyptianremains discovered in the 1910s and described by German paleontologistErnst Stromer. These original remains were destroyed in World War II, but additional skull material has come to light in recent years. It is unclear whether one or two species are represented in the described fossils. The best known species is S. aegyptiacus from Egypt, although a potential second species, S. marocannus, has been recovered from Morocco. The distinctive spines of Spinosaurus, which were long extensions of the vertebrae, grew up to 2 meters (7 ft) long and were likely to have had skin connecting them, forming a sail-like structure, although some authors have suggested that they were covered in muscle and formed a hump or ridge. Multiple functions have been put forward for this structure, including thermoregulation and display. According to recent estimates, Spinosaurus is the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, even larger than Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus. These estimates suggest that it was around 16 to 18 meters (52 to 59 ft) in length and 7 to 9 tonnes (7.7 to 9.9 short tons) in weight. (Read more...)
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