Newly unveiled fossils indicate a dinosaur known as Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was built to live part of the time in water, according to a report published online for the journal Science.
Measuring 50 feet, making it larger than the Tyrannosaurus rex, Spinosaurus is so named because of the long spines measuring up to seven feet that run down its back and form one large sail.
The dinosaur had an elongated neck, and its hind limbs were smaller and more solid than those of land dinosaurs like the T. rex. and indicate that the Spinosaurus used them to paddle its massive body through the waters.
“The Spinosaurus story is truly unique, it is an international story of scientists getting together and it stretches across a century,” said Professor Paul C. Sereno of the University of Chicago and one of the scientists who has been working on reconstructing the Spinosaurus and its story.
Spinosaurus fossils were first discovered in the Western Desert of Egypt by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in 1912. The fossils, housed in a museum in Munich, were destroyed in World War II by an Allied air raid, according to National Geographic magazine’s October cover story.
“We’ve been living with more or less a shadow of this dinosaur all of my life,” Sereno said.
The fossils were unearthed by a nomad in Morocco in 1975, sold into the fossil market and wound up in Milan, Italy.
Nizar Ibrahim, a 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer and co-author of the Science journal report, recognized the fossils in Italy.
The entire discovery and rediscovery story of the Spinosaurus is the subject of a National Geographic/NOVA special, “Bigger Than T.rex,” which airs on PBS on Nov. 5.
Currently, a life-size model of the Spinosaurus can be seen in an exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.