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Current Affairs

Swimming dinosaur fossil discovered

Date: 04 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The scientists studying a peculiar, millions of years old fossil of a particular dinosaur species named Spinosaurus, discovered that it was the very first known swimming dinosaur.

 

Background

The study analysed the swimming ability of dinosaurs named Spinosaurus aegyptiacus using a well-preserved fossil tail. These predator dinosaurs were around 50-foot long and have a fossil record ranging over 50 million years.

 

Details

  • Spinosaurus, which lived 95 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, was a highly unusual dinosaur, and not just because of its staggering dimensions - up to 50 feet (15 meters) long and seven tons.

  • Until recently, only bits and pieces of Spinosaurus fossils were available for analysis, with the majority of associated fossils destroyed during World War II.

  • The tail of the Spinosaurus is a flexible, paddle-like tail, which may have helped them propel through water, just like today’s crocodiles, says the study.

  • The uniquely-shaped tail formed by a series of extremely tall neural spines would have helped them move laterally to create thrust in the water.

  • Additionally, the elongated, snout with conical teeth of these dinosaurs also resembled the jaw of a crocodile.

  • Spinosaurus still was able to move on land and lay eggs there, perhaps walking on four legs rather than two like other meat-eating dinosaurs.

  • It had so many adaptations to an aquatic existence - nostrils high on the skull and further back from the tip, flat bottomed-toe bones and claws, dense and thickened bone for buoyancy control, and this newly discovered tail form - that it would have been at least as aquatic as Nile Crocodiles.

  • The current research throws new light on Spinosaurus, establishing them as aquatic animals that may have hunted prey in the water with the help of their specially adapted tails.