Giant bipedal, carnivorous and head reminiscent of modern crocodiles – this is the basic description of the fossils of Spinosaurus, recently found on Wright Island in southern England.
British paleontologists said on Thursday they had found parts of the skeleton of a Spinosaurus that lived about 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. Based on fossils, experts estimate that the animal had a height of more than 10 meters, and could reach 15 meters.
With this discovery, Spinosaurus – the cousin of the most famous prehistoric carnivore, Tyrannosaurus rex – became the largest carnivore ever to set foot on European soil. However, the skeleton of the giant was not complete. Fossils of the vertebrae, bones of the back, hip and tail, as well as fragments of the upper and lower extremities were found. This species does not have a specific scientific name yet, but it has been called “white stone spinosauride”, in reference to the place where it was found. Scientists believe that it is not part of any previously identified species.
“The sample size is impressive. It is one of the largest – and perhaps the largest – predators known to hunt in Europe,” said the head of the study that discovered the fossils, paleontologist Chris Parker. The scientific article describing the results can be read here..
Carnivorous dinosaurs belong to a class called theropods, with large specimens on every continent. They were bipedal, with huge skulls and powerful teeth. In Africa, Spinosaurus was the largest. In North America, the dinosaur reigned at the top of the food chain. In South America, the gigantosaurus was the predator at the top of the food chain. Now, with the new Spinosaurus, Torvosaurus has lost the European crown.
The fossils were found off the southwest coast of Wright Island. Spinosaurus inhabited an area of lakes that was inhabited by many flying herbivores called pterosaurs. During the Cretaceous period, sea levels were higher than they are at present, and much of Europe was underwater.
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*With information from Reuters.
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