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Paleontologists finally settled the debate over whether the Spinosaurus was a semiaquatic beast or just preferred to hunt near bodies of water, according to Reuters.
Known as the largest carnivorous dinosaur, the Spinosaurus surpassed the intimidating Tyrannosaurus rex in size.
Yet, the extinct reptile has been labeled as “simply weird” by scientists, because of its unique features. About 50 feet long and weighing seven tons, the dinosaur had a small pelvis, short hind legs, and a paddle-like tail and feet to propel itself through the water.
It also sported an unusual, seven-foot-tall, sail-like structure of bony spines on its back that would make it hard for such an animal to hide underwater.
Even so, a new study analyzed the bone density of the Spinosaurus and its closest relatives, Baryonyx and Suchomimus. The paper also looked into the bones of nearly 300 living and extinct animals, including land- and water-dwellers.
Researchers noted that bone density and compactness are defining characteristics for creatures adapted to marine life.
In the case of the dinos, the Spinosaurus and Baryonyx both possessed incredibly compact bones, which would have helped them stay submerged when swimming underwater as semiaquatic predators hunting huge prey.
Suchomimus, however, lacked this density and might have been a wading predator, the researchers noted.
“Spinosaurus was perhaps moving along shallow waters using a combination of ‘bottom-walking’ – like modern hippos – and lateral strokes of its giant tail,” said co-author Guillermo Navalón.