Alien-like giant water-living dinosaur unveiled

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

15 PHOTOS
Spinosaurus
See Gallery
Alien-like giant water-living dinosaur unveiled
University of Chicago Paleontologists Paul C. Sereno, left, and Nizar Ibrahim, right, infront of a 50-foot life-size model of a Spinosaurus dinosaur that is currently on display outside entrance to the National Geographic Society in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. National Geographic has put together a life-size model of the first non-bird dinosaur that could live much of the time in water. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
University of Chicago Paleontologists Paul C. Sereno speaks during an interview in front of a 50-foot life-size model of a Spinosaurus dinosaur at the National Geographic Society exhibit in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. National Geographic has put together a life-size model of the first non-bird dinosaur that could live much of the time in water. Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.” Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s. The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists have just unveiled. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
University of Chicago Paleontologists Paul C. Sereno uses his smartphone to take a picture of the 50-foot life-size model of a Spinosaurus dinosaur at the National Geographic Society in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. National Geographic has put together a life-size model of the first non-bird dinosaur that could live much of the time in water. Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.” Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s. The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists have just unveiled. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A 50-foot life-size model of a Spinosaurus dinosaur at the National Geographic Society in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. National Geographic has put together a life-size model of the first non-bird dinosaur that could live much of the time in water. Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.” Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s. The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists have just unveiled. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 8: Pedestrians walk past the newly erected replica of the Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur to ever roam the Earth, in front of the National geographic Society in Washington on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. An exhibit on the Spinosaurus opens Friday, Sept. 12th and runs through April 1, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
An employee of a specimen maker checks the restoration of skeleton specimen of a 17-meter-long Spinosaurus in Kawasaki, suburban Tokyo, on June 13, 2009. The specimen is being made as the main feature for 'the Dinosaur 2009' exposition which will kick off on July 18. The predatory dinosaur's fossil was found in 1915 in Egypt and was lost during World War II. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - AUGUST 14: Illustration of Spinosaurus fighting (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH: BRAZIL-DINOSAURS A National Museum specialist gives the last retouchings to the reconstructed fossil head of a Santanaraptor, an spinosaurus dinosaur, 05 June, 2003 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Next Thursday 6th opens at the National Museum the exhibit 'Looking for dinosaurs', exposing the results of the biggest search for fossils carried out Brazil, in 2001. Among the some 1.000 known species of dinosaurs, Brazilian paleontologists have classified eight, five of them during the past three years. AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
TAIPEI, TAIWAN: A replica of Spinosaurus is on display at a museum in Taipei, 21 January 2005, during a media preview. The National Taiwan Science Education Center will kick off a 'Japanese mechanical dinosaur' exhibition on 22 JANUARY featuring 22 live-size mechanical dinosaurs which can move, roar and snort that were made by Japan's Kokoro firm. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK LIN (Photo credit should read PATRICK LIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Researcher Cristiano Dal Sasso examines a full-sized skeletal model of a Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur ever to roam the Earth, is seen in a new exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, September 11, 2014. The new exhibit tells the century long story of the Spinosaurus, which first was discovered more than 100 years ago by a German paleontologist. His fossils were displayed in a German museum, but were destroyed by Allied bombers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk past a full scale replica of the Spinosaurus, the largest predatory dinosaur ever to roam the Earth, promoting a new exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, September 11, 2014. The new exhibit tells the century long story of the Spinosaurus, which first was discovered more than 100 years ago by a German paleontologist. His fossils were displayed in a German museum, but were destroyed by Allied bombers in 1944. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 13: A Spinosaurus model is installed at Makuhari Messe on July 13, 2009 in Chiba, Japan. The model of the Spinosaurus, one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs, was installed for the exhibition 'Dinosaurs 2009', which will be on from July 18 to September 27. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 13: A Spinosaurus model is installed at Makuhari Messe on July 13, 2009 in Chiba, Japan. The model of the Spinosaurus, one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs, was installed for the exhibition 'Dinosaurs 2009', which will be on from July 18 to September 27. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
CHIBA, JAPAN - JULY 13: A Spinosaurus model is installed at Makuhari Messe on July 13, 2009 in Chiba, Japan. The model of the Spinosaurus, one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs, was installed for the exhibition 'Dinosaurs 2009', which will be on from July 18 to September 27. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

By SETH BORENSTEIN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Picture the fearsome creatures of "Jurassic Park" crossed with the shark from "Jaws." Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck's.

The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists unveiled Thursday.

This patchwork of critters, a 50-foot predator, is the only known dinosaur to live much of its life in the water.

The beast, called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, was already known to scientists from a long-ago fossil discovery, but most of those bones were destroyed during World War II. Now, 70 years later, a new skeleton found in Morocco reveals that the beast was far more aquatic than originally thought.

Spinosaurus had a long neck, strong clawed forearms, powerful jaws and the dense bones of a penguin. It propelled itself in water with flat feet that were probably webbed, according to a study released Thursday by the journal Science. The beast sported a spiny sail on its back that was 7 feet tall when it lived 95 million years ago.

"It's like working on an extraterrestrial or an alien," study lead author Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Chicago said, while standing in front of a room-sized reconstruction of the skeleton at the National Geographic Society. "It's so different than anything else around."

Ibrahim described the creature as "so bizarre it's going to force dinosaur experts to rethink many things they thought they knew about dinosaurs."

Scientists had thought that all dinosaurs stuck to the land, with occasional brief trips into the water. But the new skeleton shows clear evidence of river and lake living: hip bones like a whale's, dense bones that allowed it to dive for food, and nostrils positioned high on the skull, allowing Spinosaurus to mostly submerge.

It could walk and would probably nest on land, but on land it moved more awkwardly than on water, said study co-author Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago. It lumbered on its two hind feet because its powerful forelegs with sharp curved claws were designed more for killing than walking, he said.

Sereno called it "an evolutionary experiment going into the water."

The new find is amazing and convincing, showing how wrong scientists have been about this dinosaur and about how diverse dinosaurs can be, said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr., who wasn't part of this study.

It's also a creature that once was lost to history and war. German paleontologist Ernst Stromer first discovered Spinosaurus bones in Egypt in 1912. The bones went back to Europe, but in 1944, most were destroyed in the bombing of Munich in World War II. Spinosaurus was lost.

But in 2008, Ibrahim was in Morocco on a quest for Spinosaurus. It wasn't going well. He had heard of a local dealer who might know where some bones were, but couldn't find him. Ibrahim had given up hope and was contemplating returning home while sitting in a cafe. He looked up and spotted the dealer walking by.

They went to a Moroccan dig site and found a mostly complete set of bones.

Spinosaurus, which grew some 9 feet longer than Tyrannosaurus rex, feasted on aquatic creatures the size of cars in an area that "was the most dangerous place in the history of man," Ibrahim said. Three giant predators nearly the size of a T. rex roamed on land. Even the sky had giant predators. And in the water 25-foot sharks, giant sawfish and six or seven types of ancient nasty crocodiles lurked.

Sereno noted that a Spinosaurus did fight a T. rex in the movie "Jurassic Park III," but it was a land battle and based on the old conception of the dinosaur. In reality, the two didn't live at the same continent or in the same time period.

In the movie, the Spinosaurus won. And Sereno said if the two species had fought in the water, Spinosaurus would have won easily.

New Study Shows Dinosaurs Could Swim


More AOL Content:
Summer snow unexpectedly slams US towns
Sheen offers massive tip to stiffed waiter

Read Full Story

People are Reading